Canadian birds sicker than first thought

March 10, 2004, Canadian officials have changed their initial assessment of the strain of bird flu that effected birds in British Columbia in February. New reports released by the Canadian Food Inspection reveal that the strain is actually a more potent variety then was first thought. Even at the greater strength, the strain poses little threat to humans, reported Agence France Presse.

EU stops poultry imports from Canada

March 11, 2004, Following the confirmation of a highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in the Canadian state of British Columbia, the European Commission has adopted a proposal to suspend the import of live poultry, poultry meat and products and eggs from Canada into the EU.

"The risk to human health remains low. This is not the same virus which currently exists in Asia," the agency was quoted by AFP as saying.

In February an outbreak of bird flu was discovered at a farm east of Vancouver, leading to the cull of around 16,000 chickens. It was believed to be a low pathogenic strain of the disease, but now officials have said tests have found both low and high pathogenic forms of the H7N3 strain of the virus. High pathogenic strains are more contagious and have a higher fatality rate amongst infected birds than low pathogenic strains.

"The presence of both forms of the virus on the same premises is not unheard of but is rare," the agency said.

In response to the discovery, Japan re-imposed its total ban on live birds, chicken and other poultry meat from Canada. The Japanese agriculture ministry had recently eased the ban, allowing imports from other parts of Canada except British Columbia, but has now re-imposed the original ban, reported Kyodo News.

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