B.C. poultry banned due to bird flu
WASHINGTON – The United States banned poultry from mainland British Columbia on Monday because of a case of bird flu, though Canadian officials said it isn’t the virulent form in Southeast Asia blamed for more than 60 human deaths.
The governments of Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong indicated they will take similar action.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Sunday that a duck at a commercial poultry farm in British Columbia had tested positive for bird flu. The virus was a low-pathogenic North American form that doesn’t kill poultry and is not a threat to people, officials said.
“We’re waiting to get more information from Canada, at which point we could be able to scale back” the ban, said U.S. Agriculture Department spokesman Jim Rogers. “We just need that information.”
The virulent form of bird flu in Asia has not been found in the United States and is only now spreading into Eastern Europe. Authorities there say that cooking kills the virus; health officials in the United States say that eating properly handled and cooked poultry is safe.
Canadian officials plan to report to the United States within 24 hours, according to Canada’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. Brian Evans.
Depending on the results, the United States could restrict imports from a smaller, regional area, Rogers said.
The farm with the infected duck, in Chilliwack outside of Vancouver, isn’t licensed to export. Authorities have begun killing about 56,000 birds on the farm with carbon dioxide gas and have quarantined four other farms within three miles of the area.
An outbreak of bird flu in 2004 in British Columbia prompted the killing of 17 million birds.
Evans said Canada would have preferred that the U.S. take no action since the virus found in the duck is different from the one in Asia.
“That would have been consistent with how we’ve treated low-path findings in the United States previously,” he said. “But again, we’re working in an extremely sensitive international environment at this point.”
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