British Columbia

Avian flu outbreak spreads to Vancouver Island

A small poultry flock in the Comox Valley has tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus, marking the first outbreak detected on Vancouver Island.

Poultry flock in Comox Valley first on Island to test positive for H5N1 avian influenza virus

The current outbreak of avian flu across Canada has affected at least 68 poultry farms, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

A small poultry flock in Comox Valley has tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus, marking the first outbreak detected on Vancouver Island. 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has placed the premises under quarantine. 

This marks the seventh small or backyard B.C. flock to have contracted the virus since April. The other flocks were located in Kelowna, Richmond, Armstrong, and the central Kootenays. 

A large outbreak of avian flu across Canada has affected at least 68 poultry farms according to CFIA and has caused an estimated 1.7 million birds to be euthanized or killed by the virus, with the majority in Alberta and Ontario. 

The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Food said in a statement the virus is being contracted through contact with infected migrating wild birds. 

They urge owners of small or backyard flocks to take preventative measures, including reducing the opportunity for poultry to encounter wild birds, reducing human access to the flock, and sanitizing all things — such as clothing and footwear — when entering areas where flocks are housed. 

B.C. has extended the order requiring commercial operations with 100 or more birds to keep them indoors until June 13, 2022. 

The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has also urged British Columbians to remove birdbaths and feeders to curb the spread of the flu. 

The ministry said it has notified producers within a 12-kilometre radius of the infected farm in the Comox Valley.

It said wild birds have also tested positive for H5 strains of avian influenza in or near 100 Mile House, Bowen Island, Chilliwack, Kelowna, Metro Vancouver, Vanderhoof and Williams Lake.

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