Europe bans Canadian poultry imports

The European Commission has banned the import of poultry and eggs from Canada because of a strain of bird flu found in B.C.

The European Commission banned Canadian imports of live poultry, poultry meat and eggs Thursday, after a second strain of avian flu was found on a British Columbia farm this week.

The ban takes effectively immediately and won't be lifted until April 6 at the earliest.

EU countries imported about 15 million hatching eggs and 170,000 day-old chicks from Canada in 2003. Poultry meat imports are negligible.

The H7N3 strain detected on the Fraser Valley farm is not the same as the H5N1 bird flu that has killed at least 20 people and devastated the poultry industry in more than a dozen Asian countries this year.

Nonetheless, the European Commission said the British Columbia case involves a "highly pathogenic" strain.

An even milder strain of the H7N3 bird flu showed up on the same chicken farm on Feb. 19, leading Japan and other countries to ban Canadian poultry imports for a short time.

For the next month, the European Commission has asked Canada to update it on the bird flu situation and outline what is being done to bring the disease under control.