Canada blocking poultry from Kansas, Arkansas

Avian flu in Kansas backyard birds marks first case in Central flyway

(Dave Bedard file photo)

Canada has expanded its restrictions on imports of live poultry, uncooked poultry products and eggs to include those from Kansas and Arkansas, as avian flu has now appeared in birds in both states.

The Kansas cases of highly-pathogenic (“high-path”) H5N2 avian flu are in a backyard chicken and duck flock in Leavenworth County, on the state’s eastern border with Missouri, the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said Friday.

APHIS last Wednesday announced Arkansas’ first outbreak of high-path H5N2, at a commercial turkey operation in Boone County.

APHIS said Friday the Kansas finding marks the first case of high-path avian flu in the Central flyway — a migratory birds’ flight path running north from the Gulf of Mexico through Texas, the Plains states, the Dakotas and Montana.

North of the 49th parallel, the Central flyway runs mainly through Saskatchewan and over parts of southwestern Manitoba, northeastern Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Yukon as well as Alaska.

Kansas state officials have quarantined the affected premises, APHIS said, and birds on the property will be “depopulated” to prevent the virus’ spread. APHIS tested samples from the flock after reports of “increased mortality.”

Areas of Kansas’ Cherokee and Crawford counties are already under surveillance for avian flu after a confirmed case of H5N2 in Missouri’s nearby Jasper County in the past week, officials said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said it considers the risk to people from H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry in the U.S. to be “low” and noted no human infections with the virus have been detected.

Federal and state partners are working on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area, APHIS said, noting the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies continue to “actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.”

Kansas animal health commissioner Dr. Bill Brown said in a release that response teams will be running surveillance and testing on nearby flocks, and added it’s “important to know where backyard flocks of poultry exist.

“We will be seeking information about the presence of backyard flocks in Leavenworth County,” he said, and “if you currently own poultry, the (Kansas Department of Agriculture) is requesting you self-report your backyard flock.”

“Take active role”

Canada on Saturday announced its expanded bans, prohibiting travellers to Canada from any H5N2-positive U.S. states from bringing in live birds, hatching eggs, eggs, yolks, egg whites, feathers, poultry manure, poultry litter, laboratory materials containing poultry products or byproducts, and any poultry meat other than “fully cooked, canned, commercially sterile meat products.”

The restrictions also apply to commercial imports of live poultry, birds and raw or untreated poultry products from the specific quarantine zones within the affected states until further notice, CFIA said. Live pet birds may be brought into Canada if they come with official APHIS certification.

CFIA again emphasized Saturday there is no food safety risk with the products in question and its restrictions are in place to keep H5N2 from spreading into other parts of Canada.

CFIA’s bans already apply to such birds, eggs and products from the Mississippi flyway states of Missouri and Minnesota, and from the Pacific flyway states of California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, after avian flu appeared in recent months in commercial and/or backyard birds in those states.

CFIA also still has 21-day quarantines in place on a commercial egg farm and two “non-commercial” farms in southern British Columbia after findings of avian flu.

The three properties have all been depopulated of birds, cleaned and disinfected, as have 10 other commercial poultry farms which were infected with H5N2 in December in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. The quarantines have since been lifted on those 10 farms.

The agency has urged Canadian poultry owners to “take an active role in protecting their flocks” through strict biosecurity measures on their properties and by “immediately” reporting any signs of illness. –– Network

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