Highly pathogenic avian influenza confirmed in Ontario poultry flock

Update, as of late March 27: 

On March 27, 2022, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI), subtype H5N1, in a poultry flock in southern Ontario.

The CFIA has not said which type of poultry farm.

To control any potential spread of the disease, the CFIA has placed the premises under quarantine and is establishing movement control measures and recommending enhanced biosecurity for other farms within that area.

Two 10 km zones have been established, one near Waterloo/Wellington and one in the Thamesford area, surrounding two suspected cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Ontario poultry flocks.

Ontario has launched a heightened biosecurity advisory for all poultry farmers, small flock growers and poultry industry personnel in the entire province effective immediately, in response to the two suspected cases.

On March 21, the disease was confirmed in a red-tailed hawk in the province. The H5N1 pathotype has been spreading across North America, having been found in six provinces and at least 18 U.S. states in the last four months.

Ontario leads the country in poultry production, accounting for around a third of Canadian chicken and egg production, and nearly half of national turkey production.

The Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC) states the following biosecurity protocols must be implemented:

On-farm

  • Keep poultry away from areas frequented by wild birds
  • Maintain strict control over access to poultry houses and your premises
  • Make sure equipment is cleaned and disinfected before taking it into poultry houses
  • Do not keep bird feeders or create duck ponds close to poultry barns.
  • Maintain the highest sanitation standards
  • Change footwear when entering the Restricted Area and prevent wearing contaminated clothing and equipment in production areas.
  • Control access to your farm site by communicating the situation to all essential visitors, including service providers, input suppliers and feed providers.
  • Keep mortalities in secure, covered containers until they are moved to the disposal area or transported off-farm.
  • Place waste entering the public collection system in a sealed, waterproof bag with the exterior disinfected.
  • Place a hose and spray nozzle at entry point to Controlled Access Zone (CAZ); wash and disinfect vehicles at entry and at exit, paying special attention to wheels and wheel wells
  • If possible, keep all waste on-farm until the situation is resolved.

It’s important to limit access to your farm to ESSENTIAL visitors only. Please note that each individual Feather Board (CFO, EFO, OBHECC, TFO) will be reaching out to their members regarding on-farm audits and inspections. Wherever possible, on-farm audits and inspections will be limited to essential visits only, the feather group says.

Required heightened biosecurity for industry service personnel:

  • Travel onto farms should be limited to essential services only
  • Roads that are contaminated with organic material should be avoided
  • Washing vehicles between farms is ideal. At a minimum, all deliveries or loading in or near a Biosecurity Advisory Area should be last on the route
  • Drive slowly when near barns to minimize dust
  • Avoid parking by exhaust fans and air inlets unless required
  • Avoid parking downwind from the barns, if possible
  • Trucks should have steps, wheel wells and tires cleaned and disinfected before leaving the premises or before proceeding with, any other delivery/loading
  • If not using disposable biosecurity apparel provided by the farmer, wear clean clothes and clean and disinfected boots at each farm
  • Use disinfectants such as Virkon, Accel, VIROCID, Bisentry, Biosolve Plus, Biofoam, etc., abiding by contact time and concentrations as per the label.
  • Be sure to clean any equipment used on-farm that could become contaminated.
  • Sign the visitor log book
  • Keep your own records identifying where you have been and when.

FBCC is committed to providing timely communications to Ontario’s poultry industry and will continue to keep you updated as the situation evolves.

In the meantime, should birds show any signs of illness, farmers are to call their veterinarian, immediately. It is also recommended that you contact the 24-hour Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC) support line, 1-877-SOS-BYRD.

One suspect positive case is located in the Waterloo/Wellington area. CLICK HERE to access a 10km zone map.

A second suspect positive case is located in the Thamesford area. CLICK HERE to access a 10km zone map.