Canadian Birds - 19 million to die

Abbotsford Military Antenna Base, Several cell phone towers & a large powerline neighbour the many Chicken farms that made Canadian news headlines recently

Possible "Pandemic" caused by Cell Towers and birds poor immune systems? Sea Gulls also mentioned in news Wednesday


All 19 million chickens, turkeys must go
By Trudy Beyak

The Fraser Valley is reeling from a poultry industry crisis unprecedented in Canada. The federal government yesterday ordered the slaughter of up to 19 million chickens, turkeys and other poultry in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland to try to halt the spread of avian flu.

“We are dealing with a very serious and contagious disease in birds,” federal Agriculture Minister Bob Speller said from Ottawa. A mass slaughter of poultry has never before been undertaken by the federal government. Speller said he believes the “orderly depopulation” will help the poultry industry to survive in the long term.

“We support the decision and the industry supports the decision,” said said John van Dongen, B.C. minister of agriculture, food and fisheries. “It’s the right call,” Speller outlined his plan during a telephone conference call yesterday.

Poultry in the Fraser Valley that test positive for the avian flu will be killed and destroyed, while bird flocks that test negative will be allowed to be slaughtered and processed to sell on the market, Speller said, adding that he did not want to see good food wasted. He decided to approve the mass culling with the support of the industry. While uninfected broilers will go to market for meat, it’s anticipated that layers and breeders will likely be rendered.
Thousands of people may be facing layoffs in the $1 billion poultry industry in B.C., which has been mired in an economic crisis since the H7N3 avian flu virus strain originated in Abbotsford on Feb. 19. Sixteen of 18 infected farms are located in Abbotsford, in an area from Mount Lehman to Sumas Prairie.

The majority of the quarantined farms are in the five-kilometre hot zone of east Matsqui Prairie, where the high pathogenic strain of H7N3 has been identified on four properties. The speed of the spread of the disease has confounded the experts, van Dongen said, noting that everyone involved in the industry is in a state of shock. “We always knew of the possibility of getting a high pathogenic avian flu in the academic sense, but no one expected it to move this fast,” he said. “It’s going to be a very painful time for the next 12 months.”

About 400,000 birds have already been killed on east Matsqui Prairie. “I consider this to be an economic disaster,” Abbotsford Mayor Mary Reeves said. “The economic impact is going to be very significant and our farmers will require financial assistance to rebuild.”

The federal government will compensate farmers for the poultry that has been euthanized. But Ottawa has not yet committed to financial assistance for lost income. Van Dongen said he expects it will take between six to eight weeks for all the healthy birds in the Lower Mainland to be sent to firms for processing. Once the barns have been cleaned out and the illness has been eradicated for a minimum of 21 days, restocking can slowly begin. Van Dongen said he expects it to take about six months before the producers can start raising commercial birds again.

The federal government also announced the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will now enforce strict regulations about bio-security on all poultry farms in the Lower Mainland. People will not be allowed to enter the property of any poultry farm without the farmer’s permission and producers must also disinfect any vehicles entering or exiting their land.

David Fuller, chairman of the Chicken Farmers of Canada, voiced his support for Speller’s announcement. “This is the most difficult decision we can make,” he said. “The poultry and egg industries have pushed to find the best way to deal with this crisis. Now, we're at the point where the only option is to clean everything out and start over, rather than going in incremental steps that could cause even more hardship on us all.” He said the decision will allow producers to recover more quickly.

• Health Canada maintains there is very little risk to consumers and poultry and egg products can be eaten in confidence. A minimum internal temperature of between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius is required for safe avoidance of avian influenza, which is atemperature less than what chicken should be cooked at to remove most other bacteria (77 degrees Celsius for the average boneless, skinless chicken breast). If the virus was present on chicken meat (transfer of the virus to meat is an exceptionally low risk), it would be destroyed during the cooking process. Avian influenza has never been passed on to humans as the result of eating poultry meat or eggs.

• The B.C. government has issued a ministerial order under the Emergency Program Act to compel the GVRD to dispose of chickens at the incinerator in Burnaby. Other disposal methods are being considered, including composting or incineration at individual farms.

Informant: Gotemf


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April 2004

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