Avian flu threatens New Brunswick’s poultry industry

Strict enhanced biosecurity measures have been underway since February at Westco Group facilities.

For example, workers must change their clothes and boots when moving from one establishment to another. People coming and going on commercial farms are also extremely limited.

Thomas Soucy hoped that biosecurity measures would be able to ease a little in the spring. This is not the casehe said. We are constantly reminded that the disease is present […] it is very very worrying.

One of the starkest reminders in New Brunswick are the hundreds and hundreds of gannet carcasses found on beaches across the province in recent weeks.

Upsurge in bird flu cases

Avian flu is spreading rapidly among wild animals in North America.

In addition to wild birds, domesticated populations are also threatened. The disease is highly contagious between different species of birds, including poultry, on farms.

If contact between wild birds and domestic birds is possible, then there could be infections. The virus has already killed large numbers of birds across Canada, and there have been outbreaks on breeding farmssays the pathologist of the Canadian Wildlife Health Network Megan Jones.

Additional precautions have been taken by the Westco Group in Saint-François-de-Madawaska to prevent avian flu from spreading within commercial farms.

Photo: Radio-Canada

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has indeed been detected in poultry farms in western Canada.

Chicken Farmers of Canada Communications Director Lisa Chop Spencerindicates that this is the first time that cases of avian influenza have been reported in several Canadian provinces at the same time.

Additionally, many of these infections are linked to wild birds, whereas normally their spread was more common through domestic birds, from farm to farm.

In total, nearly two million birds from commercial farms have so far been euthanized, says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to stop the spread (CFIA).

In case of outbreak

Avian flu is often spread through the secretions and droppings of migrating wild birds.

Despite the precautions taken by the Westco Group, tension reigns. And for good reason: the virus can decimate an entire commercial farm in a few days.

We are still not safelaunches Thomas Soucy. It’s still very alarming, it can get in through the air. There may be excrement which has dried on the outside and then turned into dust and then which comes in with the wind, they will come in with the ventilation system.

The President and CEO of Groupe Westco, Thomas Soucy. The Westco Group is one of the largest poultry production organizations in Canada.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexandre Silberman

When a case of avian flu is detected on a commercial farm, a protocol is put in place very quickly by theCFIA to stop the spread. Birds in the affected area are euthanized and those in surrounding areas are quarantined.

According to Thomas Soucy, the Westco Group would need a year and a half to rebound if the virus affected the facilities in Saint-François-de-Madawaska.

In New Brunswick, only small non-commercial chicken farms have been affected by avian flu so far.

Outbreaks on commercial farms would impact the supply chain.

Moreover, the authorities are not overly concerned about the transmission of the virus among humans.

With information from the radio show The morning and the report by Alexandre Silberman of CBC


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