Quebec breeders fear spread of bird flu on farms

The other two cases were found in two snow geese in Saint-Jean-sur-le-Richelieu and Saint-Isidore-de-Laprairie in Montérégie.

These detections were expected from the Ministry of Wildlife, as several cases in wild and farmed birds have been identified since December 2021 in other parts of Canada and the United States. Five farms in southern Ontario were recently quarantined by government authorities.

This strain has also been circulating since 2020 in about thirty countries in Europe. Wild birds can introduce and spread the virus along migratory routes.

It was just a matter of time, it’s surprising that we haven’t found any before. With what we already know about the problems they had in Europe for several months associated with this virus, unfortunately, when it crossed over and ended up in North America, it is certain that we faced a problem.explains Dr. Carl A. Gagnon, who is a professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Université de Montréal.

The rapid contagion in North America represents an exceptional case, notes the professor.

The former field vets, the older ones, have never seen that in their careers. Yes, we have had, in North America and even Canada, outbreaks on farms from highly pathogenic sources. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this, but the big difference is that it’s always been well circumscribed, well controlled.he points.

Unfortunately, we currently have a strain that is rapidly being transmitted among wild birds, and it is wild birds that are transmitting it across North America.he adds.

This element of novelty does not reassure poultry farmers in the province, who fear that breeding herds could become infected.

It’s the first time we’re really close. We have cases in Ontario, we have cases in Nova Scotia. We are really surrounded and we know that migratory birds have the same corridors in Quebec and in these provinces.worries Quebec Poultry Breeders President Pierre-Luc Leblanc.

This is the first time we’re really scared. We are very much at risk right now. »

a quote from Pierre-Luc Leblanc, President of the Poultry Breeders of Quebec

“Dramatic” consequences for breeding herds

The virus usually causes few clinical symptoms in wild birds, but domestic birds are more susceptible to it. The consequences of an infection in a breeding herd are therefore dramatic says Mr. Leblanc.

This is a very high mortality rate in herds. The rest of the herd is euthanized because we don’t want to risk spreading bird flu throughout Quebec. These birds will not end up on shelves if they are contaminated in one way or another.he explains.

If the herds become infected, the industry may eventually fail to meet consumer demand, he fears. We are under supply management, we produce what the population needs, so if there were some outbreaks in Quebec, it could put us at risk in the face of adequate supply for the population of Quebec and Canada.

Mr. Leblanc says breeders are redoubling their efforts to reduce the risk of contamination, for example by changing their boots before entering breeding grounds to avoid any contact that might come from outside .

He also urges the public to call the appropriate government services if dead birds are found. If we all work together and producers maintain good biosecurity on their farms, we will increase our chances of being spared. […] We need everyone to feed the population properly.

Rare transmissions to humans

Avian flu is not very transmissible to humans. In very rare cases, the virus has affected workers in close and prolonged contact with infected birds in a closed environment, explains Dr. Carl A. Gagnon.

It is true that the virus currently circulating does not easily infect humans. Takes humans who are in close and frequent contact with infected birdshe points.

However, he does issue a warning.

We must always keep in mind that the flu is a virus that undergoes many mutations. […] The flu is a champion in the creation of variants in relation to the coronavirus. In this context, we should try to avoid contact with humans as much as possible to prevent the virus from adapting to a host such as humans.he says.

With information from Rene Cochaux

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