H5N1 confirmed on Canadian turkey farm

Health officials have confirmed a case of avian influenza on a Manitoba, Canada, turkey farm, but they do not believe the strain to be the same as the one that proved deadly in Asia.

The strain of the H5N1 virus that has killed people in China, Egypt, Vietnam and Indonesia has never been detected in North America, Reuters Canada reports.

“It’s highly unlikely it will be considered the Asian strain,” Dr. Wayne Lees, chief veterinary officer for the Western Province, said, according to Reuters Canada. “The situation is well in hand.”

The farm has been placed under quarantine by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and is trying to track recent movements of equipment and birds on and off the farm, CFIA spokesman Guy Gravelle told Reuters Canada. Gravelle said that the case may not necessarily present a food safety risk.

Government officials believe that the strain may be similar to a low-pathogenic strain found in British Columbia in 2009, which required the slaughter of 12,000 chickens and 60,000 turkeys. Since some Manitoba turkeys are exported, the case may have potential implications for those exports, Reuters Canada reports, but Lees expects restrictions by other countries to be short-lived.

The flu was discovered when a veterinarian was called in to investigate a drop in egg production. The eggs of the farm are intended for a hatchery, not for the food supply.