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Two cases of deadly bird flu reported in Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District

One case was detected in Tofino and the other in the Alberni Valley
The avian flu has been detected on two, small non-commercial chicken coops in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. (Pixabay photo)

Two cases of avian influenza, often called “bird flu”, have been confirmed within the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD).

On Jan. 5, the BC Animal Health Centre reported a positive case in a small, non-commercial poultry flock within the District of Tofino and on Jan. 7, a case at a non-commercial poultry flock in the Alberni Valley was reported. Non-commercial poultry operations are classified as having less than 300 birds and has sold no poultry products, like eggs, off the farm.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) estimates the number of birds impacted by bird flu in British Columbia to be 3,143,000 as of Jan. 4, 2023. The District of Tofino and the ACRD are now included in the CFIA’s database of locations with infected birds.

CFIA said in an email that a control zone of about 10-km surrounding each of the infected premises will be established. The control zone limits the movement of the infected poultry as well as birds that may move into, out of, within or through the location.

The deparment says a spread is not anticipated and that the root cause of the infection was likely contact with a wild bird.

“As the District of Tofino and Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District are not intensive poultry production regions, spread between premises is not expected. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) cases in non-commercial premises are normally associated with the virus being introduced through direct contact with wild birds or its presence in environmental factors such as water, soil and fecal matter,” said CFIA in an email.

Avian influenza, or AI is caused by the Type “A” influenza virus. This virus can affect several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet and wild birds.

According to the CFIA, some or all of the following clinical signs are evident in infected birds:

  • a drop in production of eggs, many of which are soft-shelled or shell-less
  • diarrhea
  • haemorrhages on the hock
  • high and sudden mortality rate
  • quietness and extreme depression
  • swelling of the skin under the eyes
  • wattles and combs become swollen and congested

The incubation period of AI ranges from 2 to 14 days.

“When HPAI is detected, the CFIA takes immediate action to control the disease. The typical response includes movement restrictions and quarantines, investigations, humane depopulation, a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the infected premises and surveillance activities,” the CFIA said.

If you suspect birds you own have AI, call your veterinarian, the BC Animal Health Centre (1-800-661-9903) or contact your nearest Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

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READ MORE: Food industry adjusting to large outbreak of avian flu in Canada, around the world