In Ontario, worries of an even deadlier pandemic start with chickens – CBC

The talk among poultry farmers isn’t ‘if’ H5N1 arrives in Ontario this spring, but ‘when’

Feb 09, 2023

The Ontario government and the province’s poultry industry are putting renewed focus on biosecurity at their first meeting in the three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with the hope farmers’ actions today might stop an even deadlier pandemic before it begins.

Until this year, the National Poultry Show in London, Ont., was traditionally held in April. But as infections and losses among domestic flocks continue to add up from the highly pathogenic avian flu, or H5N1, the event was moved to early February to get the message out before wild birds start their spring migration.

With farms still under quarantine in B.C.’s Fraser Valley and outbreaks in Quebec last summer, the talk among poultry farmers in London, at the industry’s largest gathering in Canada, isn’t about “if” the virus arrives, but “when.”

At this year’s show, authorities aren’t taking any chances on their messaging to farmers and the important role they play in preventing the spread of H5N1 — especially after a Spanish mink farm was decimated by the virus in what might be the first documented case of mammal-to-mammal transmission of the illness.

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