Avian flu strikes Aldergrove farm

A Langley chicken farm is the latest to be infected as government agencies and farmers fight against an avian flu outbreak in the Fraser Valley.

On Dec. 13, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that an egg laying farm with 53,000 chickens was affected. It is the tenth farm confirmed since the start of December, with the majority in Abbotsford and one in Chilliwack.

The Langley farm is located in South Aldergrove, not far from one of the farms in Abbotsford that was already affected, said Derek Janzen, with the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board.

Janzen is also an Aldergrove poultry farmer, and he noted that farmers are wary.

“Absolutely upsetting,” he said of the Langley announcment. “But not that surprising.”

The CFIA and other agencies are still trying to determine exactly how the virus is spreading. There is little to no exchange of birds between poultry farms locally that could explain it. Wild waterfowl might carry the virus, Janzen said.

Birds at the affected farms are being euthanized to prevent further spread of the highly contagious and lethal flu. The virus is not considered dangerous to humans, but has already killed large numbers of the affected flocks.

It will hit local producers hard if their flocks are infected.

“It will be a significant impact,” he said.

Although farmers do receive compensation for infected and euthanized birds, they also face the costs of being out of business for some time, along with having to clean and disinfect their entire operation.

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