Infectious Diseases 2004

Infectious Diseases 2004

Avian influenza is spreading fast in British Columbia, Canada

2 April, 2004

Officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) say the bird flu has has been spreading much more quickly than they anticipated, and has hit more farms in the Fraser Valley than anyone suspected. Avian influenza has been now diagnosed on 18 B.C. farms. That's more than twice the number of sites previously known to have been infected.
Sixteen of them are within the 10-kilometre surveillance zone in Abbotsford, and the other two are close by.
Despite the rapid spread of the disease, the CFIA says it's still too early to hold a mass cull across the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland.
The industry had been pushing for a mass slaughter of all birds within the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland – as many as 16 million birds between Hope and the Georgia Strait. But government officials say they need a couple more days to study the problem before making any further decisions.
The chicken farmers are also looking for compensation because of government shipping restrictions that are costing them about $3 million a week.
They're currently unable to sell their birds to the B.C. Interior or Vancouver Island.
Farmers who have had chickens destroyed because of the outbreak are already being compensated.
So far, about 375,000 birds have been slaughtered in the Abbotsford area.
Poultry is a billion-dollar-a-year industry in B.C, with 80 per cent of it in the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland.
British Columbia is not a significant source of poultry exports, but the outbreak has prompted the food inspection agency to ban the shipment of chickens out of the Fraser River region of southwestern British Columbia.