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Canada again declares as avian flu-free

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With an Ontario duck farm depopulated and disinfected, and no new outbreaks in the three following months, Canada has again declared itself free of notifiable avian flu.

The federal government announced Wednesday it has informed the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that Ontario is considered free of avian influenza as per OIE guidelines.

About 14,000 twelve-week-old ducks on a commercial duck farm near St. Catharines, Ont. were euthanized and composted after an outbreak of low-pathogenicity (“low-path”) H5N2 avian flu was confirmed there on July 8.

The federal quarantine on that farm was lifted effective Sept. 20, following a 21-day waiting period after cleaning and disinfection were completed on the farm.

A three-month “enhanced” surveillance period was also required after cleaning and disinfection were completed Aug. 30. If no new cases of notifiable avian flu appeared in the meantime, Canada could declare itself avian flu-free after the 90-day surveillance period ended.

Low-path strains of avian flu aren’t considered as intense in terms of the illness caused in infected animals. However, low-path and high-path strains of H5 and H7 avian flu are all considered “notifiable” in Canada, meaning all cases must be reported to CFIA and are subject to control measures.

The flu subtype at the duck farm was a North American lineage and a low-path version of a subtype seen in high-path outbreaks in Ontario last year and in British Columbia in 2014-15.

The all-clear for Canada comes as several countries in Europe and Asia battle avian flu outbreaks in commercial poultry, culling hundreds of thousands of birds.

Among the affected countries in Europe are France, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. Japan and South Korea this week also ordered major poultry culls following outbreaks of high-path H5 avian flu. — Network

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