The United States has placed a temporary ban on poultry from British Columbia after a strain of bird flu was found on a duck and goose farm in the western province of Canada, a senior health official said on Monday.
Brian Evans, Canada's chief veterinary officer, said he received a letter from American officials saying they are restricting imports of poultry products from the British Columbia mainland until they fully investigate the situation in the five-km area around the farm.
The H5 strain of bird flu discovered in a duck at a farm in Chilliwack, east of Vancouver, was different from the virulent outbreak among birds in Asia, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said on Sunday.
However, the CFIA started killing about 60, 000 birds on the farm with carbon dioxide gas as a precaution.
The Canadian federal government hoped Washington would not take this action, considering the virus found in the duck is low pathogenic, Evans said.
"That would have been consistent with how we've treated low pathogenic findings in the United States previously. But again, we're working in an extremely sensitive international environment, at this point," he said.
Evans said that If the investigation shows the five-km zone is free of virus, he believes Washington would be open to scaling back the import ban to cover just that zone, not the entire British Columbia mainland.
The international standard for an interim ban is a period of 21 days to make sure the virus has not spread, Evans said.