Sask. issues animal health order after avian flu once again confirmed in province

·1 min read
A dead snow goose at the TransCanada highway between Regina and Moose Jaw.  (Fiona Odlum/CBC - image credit)
A dead snow goose at the TransCanada highway between Regina and Moose Jaw. (Fiona Odlum/CBC - image credit)

The Saskatchewan government has issued an animal health order after several cases of avian influenza were confirmed in the province.

The order comes from the Ministry of Agriculture's chief veterinary officer, and limits the transport and "commingling" of poultry.

The health order will be in place until Oct. 21, when it will be reviewed.

Back in April, CBC reported that avian flu had returned to Saskatchewan after more than 10 years with no detections. In the following months, hundreds of snow geese were believed to have be killed by the virus. But by July, reports of the avian flu dropped in Saskatchewan.

Now, the flu is back.

According to a provincial news release, the animal health order prohibits birds from shows, auctions and agricultural fairs, "as well as any other events where birds would be brought together from multiple locations."

The province says the goal of the health order is to limit the spread of the virus to new flocks. It says that Saskatchewan is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the poultry industry to support a "co-ordinated and effective response."

The avian flu affects food-producing birds including chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, quails, and pet and wild birds.

The province says there are proactive measures that can be taken. These include "preventing contact between poultry and wild birds, limiting visitors to barns, using barn-specific clothing and footwear, and regularly monitoring birds for signs of illness."

All detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Canada are reported on the CFIA website.

The province says that while it is rare, avian flu can infect humans, typically people who have close contact with infected birds.