Ont. avian flu quarantines to be lifted by month-end

The three southwestern Ontario poultry operations under quarantine since April with highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu can expect to see their quarantines lifted before the end of July.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported Tuesday that cleaning and disinfection work were completed June 29 at the two infected turkey farms in Oxford County, and July 8 at the infected Oxford County broiler breeder operation.

Barring any new cases of avian flu nearby, the three quarantines could be lifted 21 days after the cleaning and disinfection, CFIA said.

CFIA’s two avian flu control zones — which limit traffic in birds and farm equipment on and off the infected farms and other farms inside the zone radius — could be removed July 20 and 29 respectively, the agency said.

The first quarantine-free days in both zones would thus be July 21 and 30 respectively, according to the provincial Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC).

Once the quarantines in the control zones are lifted, movement permits and licenses for moving birds in and out of the region “will no longer be required,” according to the FBCC, the emergency response unit for the province’s poultry and egg producer groups.

Small-flock grower placements in the two control zones would also be allowed on July 21 and 30 respectively, the FBCC said.

For the purposes of poultry exports from the region, as per World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards, a three-month “enhanced surveillance period” must follow the cleaning and disinfections before southwestern Ontario can be considered free of avian flu.

The three-month surveillance period would run from July 8 until Oct. 8, the centre said.

While there’s no assurance that new cases won’t appear, there have been no new cases seen in Ontario or any other province since the three infections in April.

British Columbia, which saw outbreaks of H5N2 and H5N1 avian flu on farms in the Fraser Valley between December and February, was declared avian flu-free in June.

In the U.S., where 223 farms have been infected with avian flu across 15 states since December, affecting over 48 million birds, the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed no new avian flu cases in almost a month.

During the Ontario outbreak, the FBCC said Wednesday, officials have “gained a new understanding of the many ways the (avian flu) virus can penetrate even the best biosecurity systems.”

The FBCC said it has used that information to begin preparing the Ontario poultry industry against any “potential future incidents.” –– AGCanada.com Network

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