Bird flu lands in Canada

February 20, 2004, Canadian officials have announced an outbreak of the avian virus has been discovered in British Colombia. While health officials are still conducting tests to determine exactly what strain of the flu it is, they have determined it to be of the same H-7 variety that has affected U.S. farms.

In response to the news, Japan quickly banned all imports of Canadian poultry even though the relatively mild flu bothering U.S. and Canadian chickens is not connected to the deadly Asian version. The H-7 type of bird flu is not believed to be transmissible to humans and is therefore less dangerous than the H5N1 strain that has killed more than 20 people in Asia.

Canadian health minister Pierre Pettigrew said the virus had been contained on the British Colombia farm, and that it appeared to be an isolated incident, reported the Associated Press.

Japan’s ban on Canadian poultry imports is unlikely to be a major disruption. Canada exported 67 metric tons of chicken and chicken products to Japan in fiscal 2002, accounting for less than 1% of Japan’s poultry imports, the Associated Press said.