Highly pathogenic avian influenza cases showing up from B.C. to Ontario

(source: Scott Moore/Flickr; CC BY-NC 2.0)

A new wave of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) coinciding with the fall migratory season is sweeping across western and central Canada, with confirmed cases of the deadly virus on poultry farms from B.C. to Ontario over the past week.

As it was in spring, Alberta remains the hardest hit province. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is reporting nine active cases on commercial farms in Alberta, as of Sept. 19. Manitoba has three active cases on commercial farms, while Saskatchewan has two. B.C. and Ontario each have one confirmed case in commercial poultry flocks. Small or backyard flocks have also tested positive in B.C. and Saskatchewan.

With the exception of Alberta, the new cases over the last week are the first in each province since May or June. For example, the confirmation of an infected flock in Oxford County on September 17 was the first new case in Ontario since May 18.

Producers and industry service personnel are reminded to follow strict biosecurity protocols to minimize the chances of spreading the HPAI virus. The Feather Board Command Centre in Ontario issued a notice to producers and industry on September 18 with the following recommendations.

For producers:

  • 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.
  • IMPORTANT: Limit access to your farm to ESSENTIAL visitors only.

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, VIROCIDĀ®, 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 logbook.
  • Keep your own records identifying where you have been and when.

Related: Avian influenza rearing its head again in Alberta, as toll on Canadian flocks passes two million

Editor’s note: Story was updated late Sept 19 with the confirmation of a third case in Manitoba.

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