Human Health Issues related to Avian Influenza in Canada

5 Avian/Animal Surveillance

Routine surveillance for avian/animal influenza is overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in conjunction with federal partners, provincial and territorial veterinary services, diagnostic laboratories, veterinary colleges, veterinary practitioners, producer organizations and wildlife interest groups. Chief Veterinary Officers are the key contacts at the provincial level (Appendix E).

Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is federally reportable. New OIE reporting requirements define Notifiable Avian Influenza as H5, H7 and all highly pathogenic subtypes. In order to mirror these changes in OIE reporting requirements, CFIA is proposing changes to reportable diseases regulations. Revisions to the immediately notifiable list will also make it mandatory for laboratories to report any subtype of avian influenza diagnosed in Canada.

Between 1997 and 2003, the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases (NCFAD) in Winnipeg characterized avian influenza viruses based on 19 reports involving turkeys, chickens, ducks, gulls, pelicans, finches, pet birds and imported caged birds. In each incident either the pathogenicity of the virus was not determined or low pathogenicity was determined. Subtypes identified from these 19 reports included: H1N1, H3N2, H3N8, H4N6, H6N1, H7N1, H10N7, and H13N6[11].(15)

Animal influenza surveillance data has also been collected from swine and equine sources. In Canada, influenza is endemic in swine. There are very few reported outbreaks, and therefore few submissions for laboratory testing. Laboratory findings have indicated however, that the predominant subtypes in recent outbreaks are H1N1 and H3N2. In equine specimens the predominant subtype has been H3N8, which tends to cause a mild respiratory infection that is difficult to differentiate clinically from other equine rhinoviruses and herpes viruses.

As previously indicated, as part of pandemic preparedness each P/T should have a working relationship with their respective veterinary counterparts. This will minimize notification delays when avian influenza is detected in their jurisdiction and facilitate prompt implementation of any necessary public health measures for the protection of human health. A list of Chief Veterinary Officers is provided in Appendix E.


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