Canada

B.C. farms declared free of bird flu

The federal food watchdog has lifted a quarantine on dozens of poultry farms in British Columbia's Fraser Valley, declaring them free of avian influenza.

The federal food watchdog has lifted a quarantine on dozens of poultry farms in British Columbia's Fraser Valley, saying they are free of avian influenza.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials said Saturday that 21 days of testing turned up no sign of the disease on about 80 chicken and duck farms that had been quarantined.

The measure was originally imposed as a precaution after a low-pathogenic strain of the H5N2 virus was detected in November at a duck farm near Chilliwack and another near Abbotsford.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials quickly determined the virus wasn't from the same deadly strain that has been blamed for killing at least 65 people in Asia since 2003 and led to the cull of millions of birds.

However, they imposed a quarantine on any operation that lay within a five-kilometre radius of either of the two infected B.C. farms.

On Saturday, CFIA veterinarian Cornelius Kiley said officials were confident the virus hadn't spread.

He said health officials would next focus their energies on trying to get other countries to lift bans on imports of poultry from British Columbia.

The United States, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong had all imposed temporary bans.

The two farms where the virus was detected will remain under quarantine until the area has been completely disinfected, Kiley said.

British Columbia's poultry industry was devastated in 2004 when the highly infectious H7N3 strain of bird flu spread rapidly from barn to barn, leading to a cull of more than 16 million birds in the Fraser Valley.

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