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Notice to Industry - Farm Biosecurity During Wild Bird Migration

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October 22, 2015, Ottawa: There is a significant threat of the re-emergence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the fall of 2015 that has the potential to negatively impact the health and welfare of poultry. The implementation of preventative biosecurity practices can reduce this risk.

In 2014–2015, HPAI resulted in the depopulation of approximately 250,000 birds in Canada, in addition to more than 47.5 million chickens and 7.1 million turkeys in the United States (U.S.). In Canada, HPAI was found in 3 commercial flocks in Ontario, as well as 11 commercial and 2 backyard flocks in British Columbia; HPAI was also found in 223 premises in the U.S.

Biosecurity is the poultry industry's first line of defence against all infectious avian disease, including HPAI.

Wild birds, particularly waterfowl, are known to carry Avian Influenza viruses. While the viruses often do not cause illness in waterfowl or humans, certain strains can cause severe illness and death in domestic poultry and wild birds such as raptors, pheasants and grouse. Although wild birds always pose a risk of disease to domestic poultry, past surveillance has identified the highest prevalence of influenza virus to be in younger migratory waterfowl in the fall (August – November) as they congregate in feeding and staging areas prior to and during migration. Massive movement of wild birds during migration increases the risk of potential Avian Influenza virus in poultry farms. The virus can be spread to domestic poultry through direct contact with wild birds or their droppings and secretions. With cooler and damper fall weather, the virus can survive for longer periods in the environment, which increases the risk of transmission.

Minimizing direct contact between poultry and wild birds, as well as preventing potentially contaminated footwear, clothing and equipment from entering production areas, is of primary importance in protecting the health and welfare of your birds. All poultry owners should evaluate their farms and activities based on risk factors that could contribute to Avian Influenza and other poultry disease.

Risk factors may include:

Poultry producers should implement routine biosecurity measures throughout the year and increase the focus on compliance to biosecurity protocols during high-risk periods. The current threat of HPAI increases the importance of creating a barrier between the inside of the poultry barn and everything exterior to it. Particular attention to the following biosecurity measures is recommended:

Birds with outdoor access increase the risk of contact with wild birds and exposure to Avian Influenza viruses. Measures can be taken to reduce this risk, including:

Commercial producers, backyard flock owners and bird keepers should immediately contact their veterinarian, the provincial Ministry of Agriculture, or a local CFIA office if they suspect their birds may be infected with Avian Influenza.

Canada's wild bird survey is part of global efforts to detect HPAI viruses that could threaten human and animal health, and to identify and monitor changes in Avian Influenza viruses circulating in wild birds. The survey is an important part of Canada's Avian Influenza prevention and preparedness strategy.

If you find a dead wild bird on or around your property, you are encouraged to contact the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) at 1-866-544-4744 or visit the CWHC website.

Additional avian biosecurity and Avian Influenza information can be accessed at How to Prevent and Detect Disease in Backyard Flocks and Pet Birds, Strengthen On-Farm Biosecurity During Wild Bird Migration and Avian Biosecurity – Protect Poultry, Prevent Disease , or by contacting your veterinarian and provincial boards.

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