British Columbia gets funds for HPAI prevention, response

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The British Columbia Poultry Association (BCPA) has chosen to receive CA$1.81 million (US$1.34 million) in funding from the Canadian federal government over three years to help the province’s poultry industry respond to future outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

This investment will support the BCPA by:

  • Creating and implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for comprehensive training, personal protection equipment (PPE) inventories and rotation, secondary destruction methods and hiring contractors;
  • Creating and tendering a contract for a primary supplier for destruction, biocontainment and training as well as secondary destruction capacity to assist if there is a surge in infected premises;
  • Developing a partnership with BC AgSafe to assist with worker safety during training and annual fit tests for workers requiring PPE; and
  • Developing and building strategic partnerships with BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, processors and allied trades for an effective HPAI response.

This investment will enable industry-led destruction and biocontainment activities that will be completed with oversight from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) so that overall response capacity is expanded without increased risk for animal welfare or disease spread, according to a press release from CFIA.

“The BC Poultry Association would like to recognize the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s funding to increase industry’s response ability during an outbreak of avian influenza. Upon completion of this three-year project, we will have improved capacity to respond to future detections, with at least two companies with multiple teams that are fully trained in worker safety, humane destruction, and biocontainment. Partnering with the CFIA on building capacity for HPAI response will benefit all poultry producers, poultry processors, feed companies, and hatcheries in BC. A rapid response to HPAI will benefit all British Columbians through reduced disease spread and increased food security,” said Steve Heppell, BCPA chairman.

“By working together, we can prepare for future avian influenza outbreaks. The poultry industry in British Columbia already provides valuable assistance with coordinating movement controls and permits during disease outbreaks and this agreement allows industry to play a critical role in the health of the sector, in partnership with the CFIA,” said Canada Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

No province has had more commercial poultry flocks affected by HPAI in 2022 and 2023 than British Columbia. Nine flocks have been affected in 2023, but 43 flocks were affected in 2022.

According to CFIA, 32% of Canada’s infected premises and 48% of the impacted birds have been in British Columbia since the current Canadian outbreak began in December 2021. When backyard flocks are included 104 flocks have been struck by HPAI in British Columbia during that time frame, leading to the loss of nearly 3.7 million head of poultry.

The last time the virus appeared in British Columbia was on April 29, when HPAI was confirmed in Chilliwack. However, the virus just reappeared in the bordering province of Alberta, where a HPAI was confirmed in a commercial flock in Warner County.

BCPA represents the supply-managed regulated poultry sectors – chicken, turkey, table egg, and hatching eggs – on common issues to support the commercial poultry sector.

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