B.C. 'doing everything' it can to stop bird flu, minister says, as infections spread

VICTORIA — Farmers in British Columbia's Fraser Valley are facing "intense disease pressure" from an avian flu outbreak in commercial farms that the agriculture minister says is concerning.

Lana Popham says normally avian flu aligns with bird migration seasons, but the latest infections in farms of the H5N1 virus have been consistent all year.

The province said Monday that seven commercial farms in Abbotsford and Chilliwack has been quarantined with avian flu, while on Tuesday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said three more farms in the Fraser Valley tested positive for the flu.

Popham says the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency takes the lead when a farm reports an infection, but B.C.'s chief veterinarian has been proactive in helping to prevent the spread of the disease.

She says the testing lab is working seven days a week with the capacity for about 300 tests a day.

The minister says the inspection agency has protocols in place to deal with infected farms and that often means "depopulation," or that the flocks will be culled.

She says the situation isn't as bad as it was in 2004, when 17 million farm birds were destroyed.

“And we’re hoping it won’t get there," Popham added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2022.

The Canadian Press