The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER: Scientists say an avian flu virus that has resulted in the destruction of nearly 250,000 birds in British Columbia is affecting poultry in North America for the first time.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that an outbreak at B.C. poultry farms is highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N2.

The strain has now been detected at 11 locations in southwestern B.C. and has been found in wild birds in Washington state.

Scientists say wild birds in Canada are now being tested to determine risk, adding the strain has not yet been detected in the country outside of farms.

Poultry farmers are being encouraged to use strict biosecurity measures and to immediately report suspicious symptoms.

The farmers are also being monitored as a precautionary measure, although there are no reports of the virus affecting humans.

© 2014 The Canadian Press