Turkeys are latest victims of swine flu

Authorities say the outbreak among birds at a farm in Ontario is the first of its kind in Canada, and the second in the world, after turkeys in Chile were diagnosed with the virus in August.

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The infected flock has been placed in quarantine, and experts say none of the birds or their eggs has reached the food chain.

But they warned of a small risk as the virus mutates from humans to animals.

“This essentially human virus has been identified previously in swine and in poultry. Our working hypothesis is that this situation likely involved human-to-bird transmission,” said Ontario chief veterinarian Deb Stark.

“The risk to human health from this situation is minimal,” said Arlene King, Ontario’s chief medical health officer.

Vaccine plea for farm workers

“But it is the clarion call to people who work with livestock to get both the seasonal and the H1N1 flu shot.

“The risk is the potential changes to the virus against which people could have reduced or no immunity,” King said.

Breeders Hybrid Turkeys said “the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed that the cause of an egg production drop in a flock, in a single barn of Hybrid Grand Parent Breeding turkeys in Ontario, was due to the novel H1N1 influenza virus”.

Recently novel H1N1 was reported as the cause of an egg production drop in turkey breeding hens in Chile where employees also were seen as the source.

“The only symptom in the affected Ontario flock was a decrease in egg production with no associated illness or mortality,” the company said

“The flock is showing normal feed and water consumption and is expected to fully recover, consistent with other flus that are more common in turkeys.

“Influenza is not transmissible from hatching eggs nor through the consumption of turkey meat which continues to be a safe, healthy product,” Hybrid stressed.

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