B. C.’s latest bird flu is H5N2

The avian influenza that led federal inspectors to cull, gas and compost about 60,000 birds on a Fraser Valley poultry farm in British Columbia is subtype H5N2, and likely low in pathogenicity.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported Feb. 3 that tests at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases in Winnipeg confirm the H5 bird flu virus detected on the farm is H5N2.

The agency also reiterated that preliminary tests at the outset of its investigation on Jan. 24 indicate this strain of bird flu is of low pathogenicity (“low-path”).

It’s thus likely that Canada will keep its status as free of “high-path” bird flu, which it’s held since April last year after the cleanup of an outbreak of H7N3 on a poultry farm near Regina Beach, Sask.

CFIA also reiterated that avian flu is “a disease of birds that does not cross easily from birds to infect humans.” The notorious high-path H5N1 strain, which has killed over 250 people overseas, is generally transmitted to people through direct contact with infected birds or their fluids.

Furthermore, the agency said, “there is no evidence to date that shows (H5N2) poses any significant risk to human health.”

Quarantines continue as a “precautionary measure” on 36 properties near the Fraser Valley farm, CFIA said Feb. 3.

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