Canada's Wild Bird Survey for Avian Influenza Underway

September 11, 2013, Ottawa: As wild birds begin their fall migration, Canada's ninth annual Inter-Agency Wild Bird Influenza Survey is underway. The survey is part of global efforts advocated by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to detect avian influenza viruses that could threaten the agricultural sector and human health.

Canada's wild bird survey is coordinated by the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre on behalf of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Environment Canada, as well as provincial and territorial government partners. The survey will have an increased sample size this year, as part of efforts to look for the potential presence of significant influenza viruses and indications of viruses from Europe and Asia.

The survey includes testing live and dead wild birds. Live birds are tested in order to track the viruses circulating in the wild bird population, as well as the genetic changes and exchanges that occur in these viruses over multiple years. Dead birds are tested in order to detect potential presence of highly pathogenic influenza viruses in the wild. The 2013-2014 survey will try to sample approximately 1500 dead birds and between 1000 and 2000 live birds across Canada.

Anyone who finds a dead wild bird should contact the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-544-4744 or visit www.ccwhc.ca.

If the survey were to detect a virus of concern in wild birds in a location close to a poultry flock, the CFIA would alert producers in the area and conduct heightened surveillance in domestic poultry. The CFIA routinely monitors for notifiable avian influenza viruses in commercial flocks.

The CFIA is reminding producers and backyard flock owners of the importance of practicing biosecurity in order to protect their flocks from diseases such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease.

The following key biosecurity measures can help protect poultry health:

  • Do not allow poultry or their feed and water to have contact with wild birds -- particularly ducks and other wild waterfowl, which are known to be reservoirs for avian influenza viruses.
  • Control movements of people, animals, equipment and vehicles on your property.
  • Observe your animals daily for signs of disease.

If you suspect your birds are sick, you should immediately contact a veterinarian, the provincial ministry of agriculture, or a local CFIA office.

For more information on the measures you can take to protect your poultry from diseases, visit www.inspection.gc.ca/biosecurity.

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For media inquiries

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Media relations: 613-773-6600

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