Bird Flu Alarm

2005-11-26-35 wild birds with H5 avian flu virus found in eastern Canada

Understanding Avian Influenza

2005-11-26-35 wild birds with H5 avian flu virus found in eastern Canada

OTTAWA - Canada has discovered the H5 avian influenza virus in 35 wild ducks and one case of the H7 virus in its eastern provinces, officials announced Friday.

The Canadian Wildlife Service made the discoveries during routine banding of some 710 migratory waterfowl around the Tantramar marshes near the borders of the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

It said all the birds were young and healthy.

"These preliminary results do not indicate an increased threat to human health or commercial poultry flocks," officials said in a statement.

"Migratory birds are known to carry influenza viruses and it is unlikely the viruses are the same as those currently found in Asia and Europe."

"The Atlantic provinces share a common waterfowl migratory route so results from one area likely represent results for the entire region," officials said.

Further testing will be done at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg to determine the subtypes of the viruses.

Earlier this month, tests revealed low pathogenic strains of H5N9 in two wild birds and H5N2 in five wild birds in the western province of British Columbia, H5N1 in two wild birds from the central province of Manitoba and H5N3 in two wild birds from the eastern Quebec province.

More recently, officials said they found a "significant concentration" of the H5 avian influenza virus on two poultry farms in British Columbia.

All 57,800 ducks and 1,300 geese on the two farms were destroyed and 78 poultry operations within five-kilometres were placed under quarantine as authorities tried to build a "biological firewall" around the infected area.

A lethal subtype of H5, H5N1, is blamed for the deaths of about 70 people in Asia since late 2003.

Scientists fear the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which can be contracted through bird-to-human contact, could mutate into a virus spread from human to human, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions.

Taiwan, Hong Kong and the United States have banned poultry imports from British Columbia and Japan has imposed a nation-wide ban.

Understanding Avian Influenza