A strain of bird flu has been found in Fraser Valley, British Columbia, that is different to the H7 strain that has affected flocks in the area in recent weeks.
The new strain of the virus is being tested, with results due back in 48 hours, reported the Associated Press. The strain was detected among geese and ducks at a farm in Abbotsford, and officials closed a school across the road from the farm as a precaution.
“It’s not the H7 (virus) we have seen in B.C., we don’t know what it is. There’s a possibility it could come back as being an H5 subtype. But even if it does, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same virus as the one in Asia,” Sally Greenwood of the B.C. Center for Disease Control was quoted by AP as saying.
Recent outbreaks of an H5-type strain in Asia led to the slaughter of millions of chickens in several countries. The H5N1 strain also jumped to humans, killing 23 people in Thailand and Vietnam.
Not all H5 strains are potentially fatal; some H5 subtypes have previously been found in North America, according to Dr Perry Kendall, B.C.’s medical health officer.
“The fact it wasn’t causing illness in the birds suggests it probably isn’t the (virulent) variety that has been killing birds in the Far East, but we don’t want to take any chances or take any risks,” Kendall said.