Wild Bird Avian Iinfluenza Surveillance Update

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Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) continues monitoring for the avian influenza (AI) virus. Since 2005, the ongoing surveying is being coordinated by CWHC in partnership with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Environment Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. It is an effort to support Canada’s responsibility to report diseases causing significant morbidity or mortality in domestic and wild animals.

CWHC receives AI testing results from provincial networks regularly. As of December 18th, 2019, there were 781 dead birds and 1038 live birds tested across Canada in 2019. Of the 781 dead birds tested, no birds were confirmed to be positive for the H5 or H7 virus. Of the 1,038 live birds tested one bird confirmed to be positive for H7 virus.

In addition to wild bird surveillance, Canada monitors for notifiable avian influenza through following activities:

  • Passive surveillance in domestic poultry when clinical signs suggestive of notifiable avian influenza are reported
  • Targeted surveillance when notifiable avian influenza is detected
  • Pre-slaughter surveillance in commercial poultry
  • Hatchery supply flock surveillance
  • Voluntary heightened surveillance in the poultry genetic exporters sector

Even with these surveillance results, farmers are reminded to be vigilant about biosecurity to prevent the spread of viruses such as AI. The spread of AI to domestic poultry can occur through direct contact with wild birds or their droppings unintentionally being brought into the barn.

Producers can minimize the risk of introducing AI to their poultry through adhering biosecurity protocols and practices outlined in Chicken Farmers of Canada’s Raised by a Canadian Farmer On-Farm Food Safety Program.

World Health Organization (WHO) recently published an article containing guidance for reducing risk if handling AI infected birds. Key protective measures to reduce the risk of infection with avian influenza viruses include:

  • Avoid direct or close contact with infected or dead birds
  • Report sick or dead birds to veterinarians
  • Avoid touching birds with bare hands
  • Use personal protective equipment and make sure to wash hands thoroughly
  • Follow good food safety and food hygiene practices

You can access the complete article here: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/emergencies/pages/news/news/2020/01/increase-in-bird-flu-outbreaks-whoeurope-advice-for-handling-dead-or-sick-birds

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