Turkeys on a Manitoba turkey-breeding operation have tested positive for an H5 strain of avian flu.

Provincial officials are working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at a quarantined turkey-breeding operation in the RM of Rockwood.

There is no evidence this is the Asian strain of H5N1 influenza and it is considered highly unlikely it will be.

"This particular type of H5 does not appear to be closely related to H5N1. The genetic sequencing is indicating that it is low pathogenic, so it doesn't cause a significant amount of disease in the birds. We're still waiting for the N type of it but it does not appear that it would be closely related to the Eurasian H5N1," explains Dr. Sandra Stephens, Foreign Animal Disease Specialist with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. She says they hope to have the results from the N test back by early Thursday.

Stephens says they will be testing other operations that could potentially have come in contact with the virus.

"We are certainly investigating and conducting surveillance and testing on other flocks in the area," she says.

She says the case was discovered after the owner noticed a slight decrease in egg production. He contacted his private veterinarian who examined the birds and collected samples. Those samples were submitted to the province's Veterinary Diagnostic Services Lab. Technicians at the lab detected an H5 subtype late Tuesday and immediately contacted the CFIA. Stephens explains the samples were then submitted to the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg where the H5 virus was once again detected.

The province says there is no indication of any human illness. Workers at the farm are being contacted and offered preventative antivirals.

The entire operation, which reportedly contains around 8,200 birds, will be de-populated.

Human consumption of turkey products continues to be safe if the meat is prepared properly.

Listen to Kelvin Heppner's conversation with Dr. Sandra Stephens (recorded at 3pm CST on November 24):




~ Wednesday, November 24, 2010 ~