Published November 21, 2005
ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia – A duck at a British Columbia poultry farm has tested positive for avian flu virus, but not the form circulating in Southeast Asia that has been blamed for more than 60 deaths, Canadian officials said.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Sunday the infection at the duck and goose farm in Chilliwack, just outside of Vancouver, is different, but that 60,000 birds on the farm will still be killed as a precaution.
Veterinarian Cornelius Kiley said the H5 virus found in a commercial duck is a low pathogenic North American strain, which means it doesn't kill poultry.
"This confirmation means we're looking at a virus capable of causing only a mild disease [in birds], if any at all," said Kiley, who works for the food inspection agency.
Federal officials separately reassured Canadians that the strain of the flu found in British Columbia and positive test results for the H5N1 avian flu virus found in two wild ducks in Manitoba pose no threat to humans.
On Saturday, officials said the H5N1 avian flu viruses found in the wild ducks is not the dangerous form of the virus circulating in Southeast Asia.
"I want to emphasize that the H5N1 subtype detected in Manitoba is completely distinct from the strain currently present in Asia," Dr. Brian Evans, Canada's chief veterinary officer, said in disclosing the findings.
"The identification of this virus, which has been previously identified in North American birds, poses no new risks to human health," added Dr. Arlene King, head of respiratory diseases for the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Avian flu viruses bearing the same subtype name can vary widely in their ability to cause disease in poultry or pose a human health threat.
Officials said Friday they had found a duck with the H5 avian flu virus on the farm in British Columbia.
The 60,000 birds on the farm, mostly ducks, will be killed in line with a plan set up after an outbreak of avian flu in the Fraser Valley in 2004 in which about 17 million birds had to be destroyed.