Bird flu confirmed at South Glengarry poultry farm

·2 min read
There have been three cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu confirmed in the township of South Glengarry, Ont., since April 10, according to data from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. All three cases involve poultry flocks.  (CBC - image credit)
There have been three cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu confirmed in the township of South Glengarry, Ont., since April 10, according to data from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. All three cases involve poultry flocks. (CBC - image credit)

Bird flu has been detected at a poultry farm in South Glengarry, Ont., the third such report in the eastern Ontario township in the past seven days.

But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says the recent findings pose no risk to what's sold at local grocery stores.

"The risk [of contamination] is sort of non-existent because any birds that are infected with influenza or are linked to an investigation will never enter the supply chain," Abed Harchaoui, who works for the agency, told Radio-Canada in French.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu rarely infects humans but makes birds quite sick, causing anything from coughing and sneezing to erratic behaviour.

Cases were confirmed in South Glengarry poultry flocks on April 10, 12 and 14, according to the CFIA's online reports.

Low risk of contamination

Harchaoui said the infected birds in the most recent incident were slaughtered on the farm. All animals headed to the slaughterhouse to be processed are examined on entry and exit to "ensure safety," Harchaoui said.

Slaughtering them at the farm means the chance of spreading the virus to other livestock is less likely.

As soon as the report is made, the inspection agency opens an investigation to trace the source of contamination, Harchaoui said.

The most recent cases in Ontario are largely tied to poultry farms, according to the agency's website.

Farms and other places where the virus is detected are placed under quarantine, with other nearby farms encouraged to take additional precautions, the CFIA says.

"We try to establish the movements related to everything on the farm, be it birds, equipment or workers," Harchaoui said. "We have not found a connection between the farms that are infected so far."

In addition to the South Glengarry cases, a Canada goose in Ottawa and a redhead duck in Kingston, Ont., were also recently confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

According to the CFIA, many recent bird flu reports are connected to wild birds migrating through the region.

To avoid contamination, Harchaoui recommends people don't feed the geese and ducks heading north for the summer. Feeding them slows their progress, he said, and increases the risk they'll come in contact with farms.

Store prices unlikely to be affected

Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University's Agri‑Food Analytics Lab, told Radio-Canada the recent cases are unlikely to affect the price of eggs and chickens.

But that's somewhat dependent on how the situation evolves, he added.

"If you don't control the hatch and you have to euthanize several birds, that's where things can get tough," he said.

In 2004, prices for chicken and eggs temporarily rose 15 to 20 per cent after nearly 20 million chickens had to be euthanized in British Columbia, Charlebois said.

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