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The United States along with six other countries have banned the import of poultry from Canada because of an avian influenza outbreak in Fraser Valley. According to reports, there are a total of five farms currently under strict quarantine, with roughly 140,000 birds to potentially be slaughtered.
In a statement from Dr. Jane Pritchard, chief veterinary officer in British Columbia, the slaughtering of birds has already been carried out at two of the five quarantined farms. Included in the ban is the US, as well as Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, and Taiwan.
Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, chief veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency believes the virus might have entered British Columbia through migratory wildlife. As he explained, migratory birds, which are wild, could be a key contributor to the outbreak. While devastating, this is actually a normal way of life just like humans come down with seasonal flu.
Regardless of preventative measures, bird flu is going to crop up from time to time. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the reason that so many farms in Fraser Valley were affected is because of their close proximity to one another. In addition to the five, there are 42 more farms close by that could experience the same problem.
Kochhar expressed that this latest outbreak of the bird flu cannot be defined as being “out of control”, especially since there are other farms that make it through this type of flu without devastation. In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stressed that no risk to humans has been seen with this bird flu outbreak.
The bird flu was first discovered last Friday and immediately reported by the farmer. On Saturday, the presence of the flu was officially confirmed. Experts estimate that some 60,000 turkeys are housed at one farm and at farms number three and four only chickes were shared.
Because of the bird flu outbreak, imports of live and raw poultry into the US have been banned. The restrictions started on December 4 and according to John Clifford, chief veterinarian with the USDA, the ban is only temporary and more than likely will be lifted within a few months.
Ray Nickel, president of the British Columbia Poultry Association said that no one in the British Columbia region of Canada is currently exporting live poultry into the US. Unfortunately, with Canada being one of the two largest countries that imports poultry into the US, this may have an impact on supply, as well as prices.