UPDATE: July 22, 2015
On Tuesday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced that it had lifted quarantines in two of three avian influenza control zones. Quarantines in the last zone remain in effect and if no new outbreaks of the virus are reported there, these will be removed July 29, a news release from the agency said.
END OF UPDATE
by SUSAN MANN
If no new cases of avian influenza turn up in Oxford County, the quarantines in the first of two zones start coming off next week. But it will be early October before the southwestern Ontario region could be declared disease free for trade purposes.
The quarantine zone around the first turkey farm near Woodstock confirmed in early April to have H5N2 avian influenza is slated to come off July 20. The zone around the second chicken broiler breeder farm confirmed to have the virus April 18 is scheduled to be removed July 29. The 10-mile radius around the second farm with the virus is in Oxford County and partly in Waterloo Region. The third turkey farm with the virus is located in the second control zone.
Once the quarantines in the zones have been lifted, movement permits and licences won’t be required, it says in a July 14 update from the Feather Board Command Centre. It’s the poultry industry’s disease management organization made up of representatives from Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Turkey Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission.
More than 33 staff members from the four boards worked on the response to Ontario’s avian influenza situation, says Tom Baker, incident commander for the centre. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency was the lead agency handling the situation but board staff helped disseminate information and assisted the quarantined farms.
“We were the interface between the CFIA and the farmers,” he notes. “I think it added quite a bit to making it successful.”
Baker says between now and the time the quarantines are lifted the poultry farms in the zones still need the movement permits and licences issued by CFIA.
Starting July 8, CFIA representatives began enhanced surveillance of random poultry farms in southwestern Ontario and that continues until Oct. 8 “as part of qualifying Ontario as a disease-free jurisdiction again for trade purposes,” he says. “Mainly they look at the older birds because those are the ones that would be potentially more likely to show something.”
The surveillance includes flocks in several southwestern Ontario counties, he adds. Each country makes its own decisions on when it will reopen its borders for trade again. They’ll be looking to ensure the virus isn’t lurking in some other part of the province.
Baker says the surveillance is required as part of the “international standard.”
As for Ontario farmers, provincial poultry board officials “think there’s significant risk of this disease returning,” he says. And the boards will be working to ensure “we continue to move forward on our biosecurity.” BF