Canadian Food Inspection Agency sets up restricted zone after Avian Flu found in Lambton Shores

The movement of poultry has been restricted in a large area from Lambton Shores to Warwick, Strathroy and north toward Parkhill after the Avian Flu was confirmed at a commercial operation in Lambton Shores.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has set up a 10 kilometre restricted zone around a Lambton Shores poultry operation to stop the spread of Avian Flu.

Tuesday, the highly contagious and deadly virus was found in a commercial poultry operation with more than 300 birds. CFIA doesn’t release details of the farm involved to “protect the privacy of producers who are dealing with a significant setback for their farms.”

The Food Inspection Agency has been working with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Lambton Public Health and on Thursday, CFIA’s director set up a primary control zone 10 kilometres around the area where the infection occurred.

Officials from CFIA, in an email to The Independent, said “the infected premises is under CFIA quarantine and movement controls to reduce the risk of the disease spreading to other farms.”

There is a three kilometre infected zone around the farm and another 10 kilometres which is restricted. Anyone moving domestic birds in the area needs CFIA permits and that only happens if there is live bird testing or dead bird surveillance. There’s also requirements for the movement of eggs in the area.

The infected zone is south of Arkona and stretches into Warwick Township. The Restricted Zone also stretches into Warwick, south of the 402 and into Middlesex County to Strathroy and north of Nairn.

CFIA says the restrictions stay in place while “stamping out” activities take place.

According to CFIA’s website which instructs farmers on what happens when Avian Flu is confirmed, “All birds on your farm are humanely depopulated and disposed of. Eggs and other poultry products are also destroyed and properly disposed of, along with litter, manure, feathers and other materials that could spread the disease.”

The operator then has to clean and disinfect the farm to CFIA’s standards. They’ll only be able to restock the farm after being given CFIA’s approval. The entire process can take months.

Poultry farmers can be insured for damages from avian flu, however in some cases they’ll only receive 70 to 80 per cent of their loses.

The poultry industry is in the second wave of Avian Flu this year. The first wave subsided in May. The strain came back in September. Right now there are nine commercial operations in Ontario dealing with Avian Flu.

Nearly 700,000 birds have died in the province – over six million across Canada in what has been the deadliest year for Avian Flu in Canadian history.

Lambton County poultry producers – well aware of the danger of avian flu – asked Plympton-Wyoming council not to allow backyard chicken coops earlier this year.

“This is a complicated disease that is very serious, and I can’t stress it enough…. the compromising of the food system…that’s is in jeopardy,” Plympton-Wyoming Poultry Producer Scott Helps told council in October.

“I want to make sure you understand the severity of what happens when Avian Flu is detected. There are strict protocols that have to take place in order for them to be able to deal with that. I think it’s the number one concern,” he says.

Lambton Public Health is monitoring the outbreak in Lambton since Avian Flu can be transferred to humans. Officials are asking those working on poultry farms to take precautions like hand sanitizing.

“Although it can be easily spread amongst birds, avian influenza does not easily cross from birds to humans, and the risk of human-to-human transmission is even lower,” said Dr. Karalyn Dueck, Acting Medical Officer of Health for Lambton County in a news release.