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Alberta Avian Flu H5N1 numbers increase

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reporting Monday that six poultry flocks in Alberta have now been quarantined as a result of Avian Influenza H5N1cases.

Health Canada says this is not a food safety issue and does not pose a food safety risk.

The Alberta Poultry Industry Emergency Management Team is in place and includes the Alberta Hatching Egg Producers, Egg Farmers of Alberta, Alberta Chicken Producers and Alberta Turkey Producers.

APIEM Team member David Webb says the industry groups are working closely with Alberta Agriculture and the CFIA to first and foremost confirm avian influenza whenever there is a suspected case.

"Then typically what that means is there would be a flock depopulation, as it is a federally reportable disease. Obviously, we want as an industry to minimize any suffering from the birds and want to also prevent further spread of avian influenza."

He says for producers right now, it's important to have heightened awareness of bird health and focus on biosecurity measures.

"Limit who comes on and off your property. Who goes into the barn, where the actual l birds are housed. To take some of the ongoing protocols, you know, to the extreme when it comes to changing your boots and even clothing when you're going in and out of the barns and could be coming into contact with the birds."

Webb says being extra diligent to prevent an occurrence is key, even sanitizing tires and wheel wells when vehicles enter and exit the property.

What's important for the public to realize is this is a flock health issue, and will not and has not impacted the food chain.

"One thing that is very important to remember that I'd like to stress is that Health Canada has assured that this is not a food safety issue. So there should not be any concerns amongst Albertans. It doesn't have any impact on the food supply. It's really a flock health issue. So, it's farmers doing their best to protect the health and well-being of their flocks, whether it's the broiler chickens, the egg laying chickens or turkeys."

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