VANCOUVER -- Half of British Columbia has been designated an avian flu control zone in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and reassure other countries that Canadian commercial poultry is safe.

The restrictions, imposed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, become increasingly strict the closer producers are to the five farms that tested positive for the highly virulent strain of avian flu.

The virus swept through three chicken and two turkey farms in the Fraser Valley. Just under 150,000 birds have either died or will be destroyed and composted on site to prevent the spread.

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, Canada's chief veterinary officer, said the control zone are meant to reassure the international community, especially countries that have temporarily banned poultry products from Canada.

"Those who have put some restrictions on all of Canada will start to look at reducing that to only British Columbia or the Fraser Valley," he told reporters Monday in a conference call.

The zone boundaries are the Pacific Ocean on the west, the U.S. border to the south, the B.C.-Alberta boundary, and Highway 16, which intersects the province at Prince George.

Mike Dungate, executive director of the Chicken Farmers of Canada, said producers have been pushing for a larger control area.

"Because we lived through this in 2004," he said. "In 2004, they made the control area too small at the start and had to enlarge it."

A decade ago, a highly pathogenic strain of H7N3 avian flu swept through commercial farms and backyard coups in the Fraser Valley, resulting in the destruction of 17 million birds.


Half of B.C. designated 'control zone' in effort to stop avian flu | CTV News