Only one case of avian influenza reported in Canada in May

There are still plenty of unknowns surrounding the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak that has killed millions of chickens and turkeys on farms across North America going back to early 2022, but a drop in the number of new cases in the month of May is a positive sign for the poultry sector.

The industry was bracing for another wave of infections this spring with wild birds migrating north. There were a few — mostly isolated — cases in four provinces in April, however, there was only one new case confirmed in all of Canada in May, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The lone case in the month was reported May 6 in an area with previously infected farms northeast of Montreal, Quebec.

That’s a dramatic change from May 2022, when there were more than 30 cases across multiple provinces, with Alberta seeing the highest number of infected farms.

It’s a similar situation in the U.S. this spring, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported only four new cases nationwide in May 2023. None of these cases were on farms considered to be raising poultry for commercial purposes.

Improved biosecurity, reduced shedding by wild birds, different weather patterns, random luck, or a combination of all of the above — the “why” part is unclear and should no doubt be the subject of research.

The reduced case numbers may not necessarily mean the risk has dropped, but having fewer farms infected is certainly a step in the right direction.

Most recent highly pathogenic avian influenza case (by province):

Quebec – May 6, 2023

B.C. – April 29, 2023

Alberta – April 21, 2023

Ontario – April 19, 2023

Nova Scotia – March 4, 2023

New Brunswick – Jan 11, 2023

Manitoba – November 17, 2022

Saskatchewan – November 14, 2022

Newfoundland & Labrador – January 9, 2022

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