The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced that the actions of Canada's New Government continue to safeguard Canadian livestock from Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

"We continue to closely monitor the status of this situation. This is a top priority for Canada's New Government, and we are ensuring that federal authorities are taking all the necessary steps to safeguard the health of Canadian livestock," noted Minister Strahl. "Our response to FMD outbreaks around the world is always swift and comprehensive."

At any given time, serious animal diseases such as FMD and avian influenza can be found throughout the world. To safeguard against these ever present threats, Canada has in place a range of safeguards that start at borders and extend to farms across the country. These measures are currently being fully employed to manage animal health risks posed by the current FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom.

Canadian imports of susceptible animals and animal products from the United Kingdom remain blocked. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has determined that no previously imported commodities pose significant risks to animal health.

The CFIA is working with the Canada Border Services Agency to increase vigilance at all Canadian borders. Both agencies are heightening travellers' awareness, particularly those coming from the United Kingdom, of their responsibilities to declare all food, animals and animal products, which could carry FMD virus. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is also issuing a travel advisory reminding travellers from the United Kingdom to notify customs officials if they have visited a farm while abroad and if they plan to soon visit one in Canada.

Based on the rapid response actions of the United Kingdom and the extent of the outbreak-which currently appears to be contained-no additional border measures are planned at this time. If the situation changes, the CFIA will take additional measures to minimize risks posed by the international movement of people and products.

Disease control in Canada is a shared responsibility. In concert with Government border restrictions, Canadian livestock producers must always apply appropriate biosecurity principles and practices. The CFIA encourages agricultural associations to highlight for their members the absolute importance of maintaining strict disease controls on all farms in Canada.

Current speculation linking the origin of the UK outbreak to laboratory facilities has reinforced the importance of lab biosecurity in Canada. All CFIA laboratories, which are the only facilities in Canada permitted to handle FMD virus, operate under strict protocols and procedures to prevent the accidental escape of pathogens into the environment. These measures are based on international standards and are thoroughly reviewed on a regular basis.

Although disease prevention is the ultimate animal health objective of the CFIA, the ability to respond to outbreaks cannot be overlooked. To this end, the CFIA has a detailed FMD response plan that would permit Canadian authorities to identify, contain and eliminate outbreaks.

The CFIA remains in close contact with authorities in the United Kingdom to follow the situation. Any new information will be provided to the Canadian public as it becomes available.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency