Avian flu on a B.C. property just across the border has prompted the U.S. government to send a team of veterinarians and animal health experts to Washington state to keep an eye on the situation.
Avian flu on a B.C. property just across the border has prompted the U.S. government to send a team of veterinarians and animal health experts to Washington state to keep an eye on the situation. “The last confirmed case was a quarter mile from the U.S.-Canadian border,” said Kate Sandboe, a spokeswoman for the Washington state Department of Agriculture. “That’s pretty close.” A spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency could not immediately confirm whether avian flu was detected so close to the border. The U.S. Department of Agriculture team is concentrating on a 16-kilometre area in upper Whatcom County, which is just across the border. Sandboe said there are some large poultry producers in area. “They’ll be concentrated in that area and going around and talking to primarily small backyard poultry owners, small flocks, about avian influenza.” She called it a precautionary measure and couldn’t say how likely officials consider it that the flu might cross the border. “Clearly them coming out here shows a high level of concern, but I think we’re still hoping as a result of these efforts we can keep it from crossing the border.” Sandboe said officials aren’t so much worried about the virus being carried by wild birds as by people who may have had contact with B.C. farms. “Trucks, equipment that might have . . . come across the border, anyone whose been on a poultry farm in B.C.,” she said. She was uncertain about how much interaction might normally take place between the two countries’ poultry industries. The team, which began to arrive over the weekend, is expected to stay until two weeks after British Columbia declares its outbreak controlled. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Friday that flu has so far been detected on 37 commercial premises and 10 so-called backyard lots. Since Feb. 19, when the agency detected the presence of avian influenza on one farm in the province’s agricultural heartland, the virus has spread, primarily in the central Fraser Valley. Officials earlier this month made the decision to slaughter 19 million chickens, turkeys and other birds in the valley to try to eradicate the virus. (Source: Canadian Press, April 2004)