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Cablegate: Avian Influenza Report 1: Low Pathogenic Virus

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 003448

SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES/IHA (CRODDY, FOSTER, SINGER, DALEY),
WHA/CAN (NELSON), M/MED/DASHO (TRIPLETT)

DHHS FOR KAREN BECKER

DHHS FOR BILL STEIGER AND ROSE BROWNRIDGE, OFFICE OF
GLOBAL HEALTH

CDC FOR ROBERT BALDWIN, OFFICE OF GLOBAL HEALTH

USDA FOR APHIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KSCA SOCI PREL CA WHO KSTH
SUBJECT: Avian Influenza Report 1: Low Pathogenic Virus
Found in British Columbia

Ref. Ottawa 2827 (Public Health Emergency Governance)

1. Summary: Avian influenza virus detected on November
18 in a domesticated duck from a farm in British
Columbia has been confirmed as a low pathogenic H5
North American strain. An estimated 67,000 ducks and
other fowl from the farm and surrounding area will be
euthanized. A national wild bird survey conducted over
the past weeks has identified low pathogenic North
American subtypes of Avian Influenza in ducks from
Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia - the birds were
free of the strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza
responsible for animal and human illness in Southeast
Asia. Wild birds from Ontario are currently being
examined to identify the H5 avian influenza subtype
they are carrying. End summary.

2. On November 20, 2005 the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency (CFIA) announced that the avian influenza virus
detected on November 18 in a duck from a farm in
British Columbia has been confirmed as a low pathogenic
H5 North American strain (as of November 21 the CFIA
has not indicated precisely which particular low
pathogenic strain it is, whether H5N1, N3, N2 or N7).
The confirmation means that the particular virus
subtype would cause only mild disease, if any at all,
in exposed birds. It also means that this subtype is
not the strain currently circulating in Asia. According
to Canadian authorities there is no new risk to public
health.

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3. The CFIA is implementing preventative and
precautionary control measures to limit and prevent the
spread of the virus to other commercial premises.
Preparations are underway to euthanize all birds on the
premises from which the duck originated. The CFIA's
actions are consistent with the recommendations agreed
to by governments and industry following the 2004
Abbotsford, British Columbia outbreak and reflect the
guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health.
The virus is different than the H7N3 strain found
during the 2004 Abbotsford outbreak in which
approximately 17 million domesticated fowl were
euthanized.

4. Surveillance is being conducted to monitor the
health of domestic birds in the immediate area.
Specifically, samples are being tested from a number of
other premises that may have been exposed to birds from
the farm. In addition, all commercial premises within
five kilometers of the farm are being tested for any
signs of disease. According to APHIS, because this is
an H5 virus, the USG has placed temporary trade
restrictions on birds and bird product from mainland
British Columbia. These will be in place at least until
Canada has completed their epidemiological evaluation
and APHIS has conducted its own evaluation of the
information.

5. The GoC is examining whether there is any link
between the infected duck and avian influenza virus
found in migratory birds during a recent wild bird
survey. According to CFIA, although it may not be
possible to conclusively identify the origin of
infection, the ongoing presence of avian influenza in
wild birds reinforces the importance of maintaining
strict Biosecurity controls in all domestic bird
operations.

6. A national wild bird survey conducted by the
Government of Canada earlier in the autumn had found
Avian Influenza virus in wild birds from Quebec,
Manitoba and British Columbia. Molecular testing of
samples collected from the three provinces ruled out
the Asian strain of avian influenza and confirmed that
the viruses are low pathogenic. Further analysis
definitively identified the presence of low-pathogenic
North American subtypes H5N3 in Quebec birds, H5N1 in
Manitoba, and H5N9 and H5N2 in British Columbia. That
is, they are free of the strain of highly pathogenic
avian influenza responsible for animal and human
illness in Southeast Asia.

7. According to CFIA, all these subtypes have been
previously observed in North America and none are of
significant concern from an animal health perspective,
given the bio-security measures already in effect. The
Public Health Agency of Canada has been working with
the CFIA on the testing and has determined that there
is no information in these findings suggesting a new
threat to human health.

8. The national wild bird survey includes samples taken
from migratory birds along significant flyways in seven
provinces, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova
Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta. Ontario has
completed preliminary screening, and samples identified
as H5 are now undergoing confirmatory testing at the
National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases in
Winnipeg. Animal and human health specialists from the
federal government will examine subtypes from the four
remaining provinces to rule out the Asian H5N1 strain
and determine how pathogenic they are.

9. According to the CFIA, these findings are not
surprising given the natural prevalence of the virus in
the wild population. The World Health Organization
characterizes this natural reservoir as benign and
stable. Previous North American wild bird findings
indicate H5 can be present at rates of zero to 7.4 per
cent in wild birds. These recent Canadian findings are
within that range.

Wilkins

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