The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has confirmed “a premises of concern has been identified in the Cowichan Valley” with respect to the avian influenza (bird flu).
According to the Salt Spring Island Poultry Club, a member was notified by the Ministry that their birds in Mill Bay were within 12 kilometres of a backyard flock that had the virus and they have been advised to take extra precautions.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the lead agency on the case. A CFIA spokesperson said the only confirmed case thus far is the one in the Okanagan and the CFIA does not release information on suspected cases until they are confirmed.
On April 20, in response to a confirmed outbreak of avian influenza at an Okanagan farm, Minister of Agriculture and Food Lana Popham said “enhanced prevention and preparedness measures are being taken to protect poultry flocks in B.C.”
“All poultry producers, including backyard poultry owners, are advised to increase their biosecurity practices and to be vigilant and monitor for signs of avian influenza in their flocks,” said Popham’s statement. “To further protect farmers and prevent the spread of avian influenza in B.C., the deputy chief veterinarian has issued an order requiring all commercial poultry flocks in the province with more than 100 birds to be moved indoors until the spring migration ends in May.”
While acknowledging the potential Cowichan Valley case, Ministry staff did note it had not yet been posted on the CFIA’s growing investigations list.
Signs of avian influenza include but aren’t limited to a drop in egg production, respiratory illness, diarrhea, drop in feed or water intake, and death.
Those who suspect their birds have avian influenza are to contact a veterinarian or their nearest CFIA animal health office.