Poultry virus continues its spread through Niagara

Seven barns in region affected since December.

Disease watch

Since an outbreak of Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT) at an unidentified Smithville poultry farm last December, the virus – which is only experienced by poultry, cannot be transferred to humans and does not affect food safety – has spread to an additional six farms in Niagara, bringing the total farms involved to seven.

A Jan. 25 notice from the Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC) said one of the latest outbreaks occurred close to the original outbreak, but another is “some 15 km southeastward.”

As a result, the FBCC has again expanded its biosecurity advisory area, which now spreads from Stoney Creek and Vineland in its northernmost reaches, down toward Wainfleet and Dunnville at its southernmost reaches.

Dr. Tom Baker, a veterinarian and FBCC incident commander, has previously said it’s not known how the virus originated in Niagara, but that it can travel on dust particles blown by wind and spread from one farm to another without any direct contact.

“We have approached (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) for some support on this endeavour,” Baker said this past Tuesday.

Agriculture ministry spokesperson, Christa Roettele, confirmed in a Tuesday email the ministry has “several team members” working on the outbreak.

Veterinary epidemiologists use the virus’ sequenced genetic info, along with information collected from farms, to try to understand how and why a virus is spreading, Roettele’s email read.

“We want to understand where it came from and how it’s moving,” Baker said, noting that the impacted areas in Niagara are “second to none” for poultry and egg production.

Over 72,000 broiler chickens are affected between the most recent outbreaks at farms six and seven. At least 187,128 birds have been affected by the virus’ spread since December.

The respiratory virus is nothing new to the poultry industry, or Niagara’s producers.

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By Brett Ruffell

Source : canadianpoultrymag.com