The Gleaner

Poultry producers are on high alert as avian flu strikes Montérégie farms

As migratory birds pass through the region on their way south for the winter, poultry producers are once again on edge as cases of avian flu mount across the province.

Since early October, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed at least 10 cases of the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in both commercial and backyard flocks in the Montérégie as well as the Centre-du-Québec, Estrie, and Chaudière-Appalaches regions.

The most recent case detected was on November 5 in Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford in the MRC de Rouville, where several infections had previously been identified. Primary control zones have been established to control the spread of the virus, and permits are required for the movements of birds, their products, or by-products.

To date this year, there has been a single case of avian flu reported in the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent, which was detected early last May. And while farms in the region have managed to avoid contamination, local poultry and egg producers are not immune to impacts brought on by the proximity of the disease.

Ormstown-based producer Douglas Bryson says he is once again taking precautions against the virus. “It sounds like it is pretty aggressive this go around,” he says, while describing the different biosecurity measures he has reintroduced on the farm. “The protocols are back,” he says, while noting that the major difference this fall compared to the spring is the amount of paperwork required to bring new birds onto the farm. Bryson works with a hatchery in Victoriaville and the trucks delivering a load of chicks must travel “directly through the danger zone to get here,” he explains. “It’s scary.”

Bryson encourages local poultry owners and producers to be on the lookout for symptoms and to be vigilant when it comes to following the protocols. He says the relative distance between local poultry and egg farms minimizes the risk to an extent, “but it is still there.”

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