Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published November 24, 2010, 04:57 PM

Manitoba farm quarantined after bird flu found in turkeys; no human infection

WINNIPEG — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating an outbreak of avian flu on a turkey farm in Manitoba.

By: Steve Lambert , Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating an outbreak of avian flu on a turkey farm in Manitoba.

Officials say the risk to humans is low as there is no indication that it is the Asian strain of H5N1 flu, which decimated flocks and killed dozens of people in Asia and Europe for much of this decade.

“Our experience with these types of outbreaks in Canada so far ... has been that there’s very limited illness in humans and the illness has been mild,” Dr. Joel Kettner, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said Wednesday.

Health officials also believe the outbreak north of Winnipeg is not of the H5N2 type which caused thousands of birds to be destroyed last year in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

“You saw significant mortality in birds with that strain, and that’s not been observed in this flock,” said Dr. Wayne Lees, Manitoba’s chief veterinary officer.

The turkeys affected by the current outbreak have not been dying in greater numbers, Lees said, but have been laying fewer eggs than normal. No humans have fallen ill.

Investigators have determined the flu strain is an H5 type, but figuring out the exact strain could take weeks.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is leading the investigation. It said all 8,200 turkeys on the farm in the Rural Municipality of Rockwood will be destroyed as a precaution.

Birds from the farm are not sold for consumption, Lees said. Their eggs are sold to other growers. Turkey-eaters do not need to take extra precautions, Kettner added, other than the normal requirement to ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly.

The biggest fallout could be some type of trade restriction on turkey exports. Most of the birds produced in Manitoba are sold domestically, but a small number are exported to the United States.

“There may be some trade implications. We can’t predict what other countries will do, but we anticipate that those trade implications will be fairly short-lived,” Lees said.

“As we monitor the situation and control the outbreak, usually those trade implications start to disappear.”

Tags: