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Toronto Zoo closes aviaries as 'highly pathogenic' bird flu detected on second Ontario farm

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The Toronto Zoo has closed its aviaries to protect its birds from a “highly pathogenic strain of avian flu” recently detected in two Southern Ontario farms and multiple Atlantic provinces.

The Zoo confirmed the closure and subsequent policy changes in a statement issued Tuesday.

“Your Toronto Zoo is committed to the health and safety of the animals in our care,” the statement said.

“We are taking proactive steps to protect our birds from Avian Influenza which has been confirmed in a wild bird in southern Ontario. By limiting access to the aviaries to only Zoo staff, we protect them from any contamination that may come from outside of the Zoo.”

On Tuesday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the strain had been detected at a second farm in southern Ontario in as many days.

The agency says both farms are under strict quarantine, and they are establishing movement controls and recommending higher biosecurity at nearby farms.

There have been no human cases of the strain detected in Canada.

There have been outbreaks at commercial and non-commercial farms in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador in recent months.

Last week, the agency confirmed avian flu in a wild red-tailed hawk in the Waterloo, Ont., area.

Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says bird flu is not a threat to food safety when proper handling and cooking occur.

It also says avian influenza is not a significant public health concern for healthy people who are not in regular contact with infected birds.

With files from the Canadian Press. 

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