ARCHIVED - Preliminary Assessment of the Risk to Canadian Animals from the Novel H7N9 Influenza Virus Detected in China

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April 2013


Preliminary assessment was conducted to determine the risk of introduction of the novel H7N9 strain of avian influenza virus and exposure of animals to this virus in Canada. This assessment was conducted in accordance with the approach recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). It is based on the currently available data, and incorporates uncertainty. As more is learned about this H7N9 virus, the risk assessment will be updated if required. The risk to human health / public health is not included in this assessment.

Cases of this new virus have only currently been detected in China. This is a new strain of influenza virus; therefore, knowledge of the epidemiology of this virus in human and animal populations is limited. Evidence to date strongly indicates that the behaviour and consequence of the novel H7N9 in poultry does not differ from other Influenza A viruses common in the animal population at the global level. Sequence results indicate that this novel H7N9 virus is of avian origin; however, it is apparently not manifesting any severe clinical signs in poultry.

The preliminary assessment considered the import control measures in place, the small amount of mixing between wild migratory birds from China and Canada, the distinct separation of virus lineages between continents, the lack of evidence of efficient transmission by humans, and the indirect nature of mechanical transmission. The exposure assessment considered the poultry production system in North America, free-ranging poultry, backyard flocks or household farms located near wild birds or in live markets and other susceptible mammals.

The risk estimate is produced by integrating the results of the entry, exposure and consequence assessments. Based on currently known and available information, the preliminary estimate of the risk to Canadian animals from the novel H7N9 influenza virus detected in China is considered to range from negligible to very low.

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