April 19, 2013, Ottawa: The H7N9 avian influenza virus that has been linked to human illnesses in the People’s Republic of China has not been identified in either birds or people in Canada to date. Canada does not import raw poultry products or live birds from China.
However, avian influenza viruses are known to circulate in the wild bird population and can be transmitted to domestic poultry. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reminding producers and backyard flock owners of the importance of practising biosecurity in order to protect their flocks.
The following key biosecurity measures can help protect poultry health:
- Do not allow poultry or their feed and water to have contact with wild birds -- particularly ducks and other wild waterfowl, which are known to be reservoirs for avian influenza viruses.
- Control movements of people, animals, equipment and vehicles on your property.
- Observe your animals daily for signs of disease.
If you suspect your birds are sick, you should immediately contact a veterinarian, the provincial ministry of agriculture, or a local CFIA office.
For more information on the measures you can take to protect your poultry from diseases, visit www.inspection.gc.ca/biosecurity.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has noted that the H7N9 virus currently circulating in China is a low pathogenicity virus in poultry that has been linked to human illness. Poultry that are infected with this strain or other low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses may show limited or no evidence of disease.
The CFIA monitors for the presence of H5 and H7 subtypes of avian influenza in both wild birds and domestic poultry in Canada. These subtypes have the ability to mutate from low pathogenicity to highly pathogenic forms that can cause high mortality in birds and potentially cause human illness. In light of the current situation in China, the Agency is working with its partners to explore options for enhancing surveillance in wild birds.
If H7N9 is detected in either wild birds or domestic poultry in Canada, the CFIA will notify the public and industry and take appropriate action to protect animal and human health in collaboration with public health authorities.
The CFIA’s response to avian influenza is consistent with the OIE’s guidelines. The CFIA responds to all cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza and low pathogenicity H5 and H7 viruses by establishing quarantines, ordering the humane destruction of poultry, conducting trace-out activities, overseeing the cleaning and disinfection of premises, verifying that the affected farms remain free of avian influenza according to OIE standards, and reporting disease outbreaks to the OIE.
Canadians can help protect themselves and their fellow citizens from influenza in general by:
- Washing hands frequently;
- Covering coughs and sneezes;
- Keeping common surfaces clean; and
- Staying home when sick.
More information about H7N9 avian influenza causing illness in people in China can be found in the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Public Health Notice.
Follow us on Twitter for the latest on animal health: www.twitter.com/CFIA_Animals.
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Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Media relations: 613-773-6600