Canadian farmers battle bird flu as bird death toll reaches 1.7 million

Canadian poultry and egg producers have now lost more than 1.7 million farmed birds to a highly contagious strain of avian flu.

The latest figures are provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which says the tally includes both birds that have died from the virus and birds that have been humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

Alberta is the hardest hit province, with 900,000 dead birds and 23 farms affected.

Ontario is the second hardest hit, with 23 farms affected and 425,000 dead birds.

The strain of bird flu currently affecting chicken and turkey farmers across North America can be spread easily by wild and domestic birds.

Farmers are being encouraged to keep birds indoors, restrict visitors and step up biosecurity measures to help stop the spread.