A commercial poultry farm located about 18 miles northwest of Winnipeg has been placed under quarantine because of low pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed on Nov. 24 that the bird flu virus was detected in the Rural Municipality of Rockwood, Manitoba.  CFIA announced the quarantine the next day.

Pathogenicity refers to the severity of the illness caused in birds.

Avian influenza viruses do not pose risks to food safety when poultry and poultry products are properly handled and cooked, according to CFIA.  Avian influenza rarely affects humans, unless they are of specific types and there has been close contact with infected birds.

All birds on the infected premises at Rockwood are being humanely euthanized and disposed of, in accordance with provincial environmental regulations and internationally accepted disease control guidelines, the agency said in a statement.

Once all birds have been removed, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfecting of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools to eliminate any infectious material that may remain.

Until that work is completed, the infected farm remains under quarantine.

As a precautionary measure, the CFIA has also quarantined a local hatchery and two poultry farms that had significant contact with the infected farm.

The CFIA is also conducting a thorough epidemiological investigation, including tracing any recent movement of birds, bird products and equipment onto and off of the infected property. To limit any potential virus spread, the CFIA is also applying restrictions on the movement of poultry and poultry products within three kilometers of the infected premises.

Animal health and public health authorities from the Province of Manitoba, local poultry specialists and industry are actively collaborating on the response to avian influenza in the Manitoba poultry operation, and in supporting the producer.

CFIA urges all Canadian poultry owners to take an active role in protecting their flocks. Sick or dead birds should be reported to their veterinarian or the nearest CFIA office.

Canada is notifying its trading partners and the World Organization for Animal Health of the outbreak.