The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) today announced that the avian influenza virus detected in a duck from a farm in British Columbia has been confirmed as a low pathogenic H5 North American strain. This virus is different than the H7N3 strain found during the 2004 Abbotsford outbreak.

Testing was conducted on a priority basis at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) in Winnipeg. The confirmation means that the particular virus subtype would cause only mild disease, if any at all, in exposed birds. It also means that this subtype is not the strain currently circulating in Asia. There is no new risk to pubic health.

The CFIA is implementing preventative and precautionary control measures in response to this finding to limit and prevent the spread of the virus to other commercial premises. Preparations are underway to depopulate all birds on the index premises from which the duck originated. The CFIA's actions are consistent with the recommendations agreed to by governments and industry following the 2004 Abbotsford outbreak and reflect the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health.

Surveillance is being conducted to monitor the health of domestic birds in the immediate area. Specifically, samples are being tested from a number of other premises that may have been exposed to birds from the farm. As well, all commercial premises within five kilometres of the farm are being tested for any signs of disease.

Analysis at the NCFAD is examining whether there is any link between the infected duck and avian influenza virus found in migratory birds during the recent wild bird survey. Although it may not be possible to conclusively identify the origin of infection, the ongoing presence of avian influenza in wild birds reinforces the importance of maintaining strict biosecurity controls in all domestic bird operations.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency