Preliminary testing by the Province of British Columbia has confirmed the presence of H5 avian influenza on two farms in the Fraser Valley; a turkey farm in Abbotsford and a broiler breeder farm in Chilliwack.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has placed the two farms under quarantine to control disease spread and the industry sector has been notified to adopt enhanced biosecurity practices.  Additionally, two other farms in the Valley were placed under quarantine. These farms were determined to be at high risk since they received birds from one of the original farms. Birds on these new farms were also showing signs of illness.

The two farms are located about 8kn apart on either side of the Vedder River. It is not yet known how the the birds at those farms became infected.

Further testing by the CFIA is underway to confirm pathogenicity and to determine the precise subtype and strain of the virus. Pathogenicity refers to the severity of the illness caused in birds. Results are expected within days.

Initial tests for the disease were conducted on December 1 at a British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture laboratory in Abbotsford, after both operations experienced sudden deaths of birds over the weekend.

"In terms of the virus, it's showing heavy mortality" on the two affected farms, said Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, chief veterinary officer of Canada, reports CBC News.

All birds on the infected premises will be humanely euthanized and disposed of, in accordance with provincial environmental regulations and internationally accepted disease control guidelines. As lead response agency the CFIA will ensure the quarantine of the infected farms, and determine a surrounding surveillance zone for further testing. The CFIA will also lead on required depopulation of birds, while the Province will provide technical support on required carcass disposal. Once all birds have been removed, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfection of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools to eliminate any infectious material that may remain.

Sources: CFIA, CBC