CANADA - Gene sequencing has revealed that the virus detected in recent outbreaks of bird flu in poultry in British Columbia has been confirmed as the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N2 variant with elements of Eurasian and North American origin.
Scientists at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) have confirmed that the virus detected in British Columbia poultry is highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N2.
This virus contains gene segments from the highly pathogenic Eurasian H5N8 virus, including the H5 gene, and segments from typical North American viruses, including the N2 gene.
This is the first time a Eurasian lineage highly pathogenic H5 virus has caused an outbreak of avian influenza in poultry in North America.
The appearance of this particular reassortant virus is significant due to its ability to cause high mortality in domestic poultry. The CFIA continues to take swift action in response to this virus.
While there are no reports of H5N2 related illness in humans, as a precautionary measure public health officials are monitoring workers who are exposed to affected poultry.
Wild bird testing conducted to date has not yet detected this strain in Canada. Further studies to evaluate the risk to wild birds are being undertaken.
Poultry farmers are encouraged to protect their flocks by employing strict biosecurity measures on farm, and immediately reporting suspicious symptoms to the CFIA.
You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.