Increase in cases of avian flu in Quebec | “We are panicked”

Five places have been contaminated by avian flu in less than two weeks in Quebec. “We are not worried. We are panicked, ”says the president of the Poultry Breeders of Quebec (EVQ) who fears the multiplication of cases.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

Emilie Bilodeau

Emilie Bilodeau
The Press

On Tuesday, two large farms in Saint-Alphonse-de-Granby, in Montérégie, were added to the list of infected places. Around 46,000 chickens and 30,000 laying hens had to be euthanized in the first and 11,500 turkeys were slaughtered in the second.

The two farms are located less than 2.5 km from each other, but they belong to different owners.

“It means, a bit like in Valcartier this summer, that there was the presence of sick birds in the environment of this sector,” explains Pierre-Luc Leblanc, president of the Poultry Breeders of Quebec. In Valcartier, north of Quebec City, five farms were infected with avian influenza and 90,000 turkeys were euthanized between June 28 and July 1.uh august.

The H5N1 influenza virus is mainly carried by migrating birds and transmitted to local wildlife. The virus poses very little risk to humans, but is highly contagious and deadly to poultry.

Since the beginning of the year, over three million birds have been culled in Canada to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

“It’s really difficult to understand how the disease could enter the farms. Producers change their clothes before entering their buildings, they change their boots, they disinfect their breeding rows. Despite all the measures, the virus still managed to enter. It’s really worrying,” notes Mr. Leblanc. Breeders are also more vigilant than ever, since they see the outbreak of cases elsewhere in Canada and the United States, he adds.

The situation is all the more worrying since Saint-Alphonse-de-Granby is one of the three regions – along with Saint-Hyacinthe and Saint-Félix-de-Valois – with the most chicken and turkey farms in the province. Within a radius of 10 km around the two infected establishments, there are 200 buildings for breeding birds or laying eggs, according to EVQ.

Mr. Leblanc speaks of a “financial disaster” for producers. When a case of bird flu is detected on a farm, two to three months are needed to slaughter the animals, compost them and disinfect the premises. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) may extend this timeframe if the pandemic spreads to other farms in the region. In Valcartier, for example, a producer had to wait eight months before resuming his turkey farm.

“He has been eight months without income. It’s a major economic crisis for these farms,” says Mr. Leblanc. Farmers receive compensation for euthanized birds, he explains, but not for lost production runs.

Impact on others

The cases of bird flu in Saint-Alphonse-de-Granby alarmed all poultry producers in the region. On Wednesday, some of the birds from Ferme Gilles Brodeur were to leave for the slaughterhouse, but the CFIA asked the owners to wait until Friday in order to be able to test the animals. It must be said that the farm is located exactly between the two infected places.

“An analysis must be done on the birds, but it bodes well,” says Patrice Brodeur, one of the owners of the family business.

Since the beginning of the week, the entrance to access the grounds of the Gilles Brodeur Farm has been protected by a chain in order to control the arrival of visitors. The wheels of delivery trucks must also be disinfected when they arrive and leave the premises.

“There are more deliveries than you might think on a farm. There are feed deliveries for the birds. Some farms may also have propane or diesel deliveries,” explains Mr. Brodeur. “The principle of the request is that anything that touches the ground must not enter the truck. »

Normally, when the birds leave for the slaughterhouse, their building remains empty for two or three days. In the current context, Mr. Brodeur does not know if he will be able to restart a new production cycle next week. He is waiting to see the evolution of cases in Haute-Yamaska ​​and the CFIA’s response.

“We are not so worried because we do not have control over the virus”, tries to put Mr. Brodeur into perspective. “But wild birds, it’s true that there are a lot of them in the area,” he adds in a not so reassured voice.

Learn more

  • Quebec is the 2e poultry producer in Canada after Ontario, both for the production of chickens and turkeys.

    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec

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