Lab Canada

2006 wild bird survey concludes with no findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza

Ottawa, ON – Canada’s second annual Wild Bird Survey for Avian Influenza (AI) has concluded with more than 12,000 birds tested and no findings of highly pathogenic strains of AI, including the Asian strain of H5N1.

Samples for this year’s survey were collected from migratory and resident, live and dead, birds across Canada. Additional sampling was conducted in Iceland which is a mingling point for birds from North America and Europe.

Similar to the 2005 survey, this year’s survey found various AI subtypes including H5 subtypes, which, along with H7 subtypes, are of particular interest to animal health practitioners due to their potential to be highly pathogenic, or cause illness and death, in domestic poultry. Finding avian influenza viruses in wild birds is not unexpected. Influenza viruses commonly circulate in wild birds with little or no impact on the health of the birds or other species.

Canada continues to monitor global AI developments very closely, particularly the spread of the Asian strain of H5N1 AI. This strain, which is currently circulating in Asia, Africa and Europe, has demonstrated the ability to affect poultry and wild birds as well as humans and other mammalian species. While the Asian H5N1 strain has not been detected in North America, Canada and the United States will continue to coordinate surveillance efforts to provide an early warning in the event that the virus is carried to this continent via wild birds.

The wild bird survey is a cooperative effort involving the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (CCWHC), non-governmental organizations and academia.