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Avian Flu, H5N1 and the Poultry Industry - Be Vigilant

Avian Flu is difficult to control because it is carried by wild birds and is easily ‘shed’.
opinion editorial

The H5N1 Avian Flu could be a problem for the Saskatchewan poultry industry. We all need to be aware of the dangers. H5N1 is present in the migratory bird population and in some regions has spread to domestic poultry.

An outbreak was detected on some B.C. poultry farms in April 2022. It has also been detected on farms across Canada. Birds were culled when found on farms.

Avian Flu is difficult to control because it is carried by wild birds and is easily ‘shed’.

On Monday, March 13, 2023 the Vancouver Sun reported that H5N1 was detected in eight dead skunks found in the Richmond area of Vancouver. The Sun report suggested the skunks had become infected by savaging dead birds. This was the first Canadian indication H5N1 had ‘crossed species’.

This past week CBC reported the death of a dog in Oshawa, Ontario, the second case of it ‘jumping species’. The dog chewed on an infected, dead goose. H5N1 has been detected on some poultry farms in Ontario.

When a virus ‘jumps species’ the results can be serious. It can combine with other viruses and produce a new ‘problem’. That’s why governments do all they can to track and eradicate a virus like H5N1.

There is no indication that H5N1 has crossed to humans at this time, but it has been around for 25 years. The CDC states, “…, the H5N1 virus was first detected in domestic waterfowl in Southern China in 1996.” The CDC continues, “An outbreak ensued in 1997 in Hong Kong…”caused “…more than 860 human infections.”

The Spanish Flu 1917-1920

It is thought the Spanish Flu pandemic began as an Avian strain. In 1999 Ann H. Reed et al did Spanish Flu gene sequencing using a lung sample from a flu victim who was buried in permafrost and therefore kept frozen.

Ann H. Reed et al wrote; “…although more closely related to avian strains than any other mammalian sequence, is mammalian and may have been adapting in humans before 1918.”

If you are interested in this fascinating topic: SEE “Origin and evolution of the 1918 “Spanish” influenza virus hemagglutinin gene”, by Ann H. Reed, Thomas G. Fanning, Johan V. Hultin and Jeffery K Taubenberger, February 1999. (Jeff Taubenberer has written extensively on the topic)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  



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