NW Week

Thursday, February 29, 2024

In Alberta, 16 instances of avian flu have been found

In Alberta, there are 16 cases of avian flu.

Key Takeaways:

  • In Alberta, sixteen avian influenza (AI) cases, sometimes known as bird flu, have been documented. Because there is no cure for the disease, it could be devastating to the province’s chicken business.
  • Smaller farms should be avoided for the most part. Various safety criteria must be observed if outside contact with suppliers or employees is required.
  • The Calgary Zoo has taken all necessary steps, including putting the penguins and practically every other bird in its care inside.

Sixteen avian influenzas (AI), also known as bird flu, reported in Alberta. The disease may be devastating to the province’s poultry industry with no cure available.

David Hyink, a long-time chicken farmer from outside of Lacombe, said he’s never seen anything like it in Alberta and is concerned for his birds’ health and livelihood.

“The birds that we have no resistance to this virus,” he stated.

“It’ll start murdering the entire flock right away.”

Also read: With less restrictions, more Canadian families are likely to travel

As per the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, avian flu can be spread by wild birds, particularly ducks. Even if they aren’t regularly infected, they can still pass it on to domestic birds, causing an outbreak due to its high infectiousness.

Contact with diseased poultry and poultry products, as well as contaminated dung, litter, clothing, footwear, vehicles, equipment, feed, and water, can spread the disease to birds.

Dr. Teryn Girard of the Prairie Livestock Veterinarians, a poultry veterinarian, describes the situation as “devastating” for local chicken farmers who haven’t dealt with AI.

“I believe it’s critical to recognize how difficult this is for our farmers, especially because these are frequently family-owned farms,” she said.

“When they get it (AI), or if they get it, it’s terrible to them.” But it’s also depressing to go into the barn every day not knowing if it’ll be there.”

According to Girard, the vet for Cargill Animal Nutrition, producers are doing anything they can with biosecurity to prevent the disease, keep their birds healthy, and get safe and quality food onto the tables in western Canada.

Though it’s unlikely that farmers will welcome visitors owing to the great danger, Girard advises that it’s better to avoid visiting friends and family who own a chicken farm because the disease can spread quickly with only a drop of infected water.

She advises folks who keep hens in their backyards to keep them away from strangers and carefully take biosecurity.

“Changing footgear while visiting the property — putting on a new pair of shoes that haven’t been around other birds or other farms — and then clearly limiting visitations to the farm including tracking who’s coming to visit (along with) monitoring bird health.”

In Alberta, there are 16 cases of avian flu.
In Alberta, there are 16 cases of avian flu. Image from AGCanada

When birds become diseased, they may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • A decrease in egg production, with numerous soft-shelled or shell-less eggs.
  • On the hock, there are hemorrhages.
  • a high and sudden rate of death
  • There is a lot of silence and a lot of depression.
  • The skin around the eyes swells.
  • The wattles and combs swell up.

Visitors should, for the most part, avoid smaller farms. If outside contact with suppliers or employees is required, various safety standards must be followed. On his farm, Hyink said he takes this issue extremely seriously.

“Before trucks and other individuals come into the yard, they spray disinfectant on their tires and wear protective equipment to avoid unnecessary contact,” he explained.

While AI is not harmful to humans, the virus is affecting more than just farm birds, and various groups across the province are working hard to protect the safety of their animals as the virus spreads.

The Calgary Zoo has taken the utmost precautions, bringing the penguins and nearly every other bird in its care indoors.

“Avian flu outbreaks are virtually entirely encircling the city,” said Alison Archambault, the zoo’s brand and engagement director.

“We went into the red phase as soon as the Avian flu was discovered 100 kilometers north of us.”

Meanwhile, the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre has tightened its biosecurity standards and will no longer accept waterfowl or corvids.

The center has also begun fundraising for an isolation trailer where diseased birds can be treated.

Source: Global News

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