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Confirmed Fatal H5 Infections on Canadian Turkey Farm
Recombinomics Commentary 01:32
January 25, 2009

Tests to date indicate that the strain of AI in this case is low pathogenic. Further testing is underway to confirm pathogenicity and to determine the precise subtype and strain of the virus.

The above comments from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency release indicate that the H5 on a British Columbia turkey farm (see satellite map) is low path.  Since a biological assay for pathogenicity takes 10 days, it is likely that the low path designation is based on the sequence of the HA cleavage site.

However, low path avian influenza usually does not produce symptoms in the infected birds.  Frequently there is a drop in egg production or the influenza is detected through routine surveillance.  In this case, the turkeys had respiratory distress and there was a “slight” elevation in mortality, raising concerns that the H5 was a mixture that included high path that was not present in the sequenced isolate(s).

In 2004, initial sequence data identified a low path H7, but high path H7 quickly emerged and spread through the Frazer Valley, leading to the culling of more than 17 million birds. 

The turkey farm is located in a high poultry density area (see high concentration of sheds on Bradner and King Roads) where 23 farms within a 3 km radius have been quarantined.  This quarantine zone extends to the Canadian / US border (see satellite map).

Detailed sequence data and test results from neighboring farms would be useful.

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