10435898The avian flu virus involved in an outbreak in B.C. is related to a deadly strain that has spread through Asia and is now affecting North American poultry for the first time, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says. Experts say the presence of an avian flu virus with Asian lineage does not increase the danger to humans – which remains very low – but it could pose a significant risk to the poultry industry. Nearly 250,000 chickens and turkeys are either dead or set to be euthanized due to avian flu, which has infected 11 sites in B.C.’s Fraser Valley since the beginning of the month. Officials have already identified the subtype as a highly pathogenic, or high-path, strain of H5N2. Viruses with high pathogenicity kill birds, while their low-path counterparts typically do not. The agency said tests have determined the virus contains genes both from H5N2, which is common to North American wild birds, as well as genes from a high-path Eurasian strain of H5N8. It keeps the label of H5N2 because its N gene is from H5N2. “This is the first time a Eurasian lineage highly pathogenic H5 virus has caused an outbreak of avian influenza in poultry in North America,” it said in a statement. More