OTTAWA – Testing by Canada’s avian influenza reference laboratory in Winnipeg has found no additional evidence of the avian influenza virus in birds from a small backyard flock in western Prince Edward Island.
Samples from the flock, including an index bird, were sent to the Winnipeg lab for confirmatory testing consistent with Canada’s procedures for preliminary findings of H5/H7 avian influenza virus in poultry. All birds tested negative on serological and virological tests.
Not detected. The fact the H5 virus was not detected in testing at the Winnipeg lab, along with the absence of clinical signs of disease in the birds depopulated in the flock, indicates only a very small amount of low pathogenicity virus may have been present in the index bird.
A finding of incidental contamination in the index bird would not be unexpected given that it spent time out of doors and other birds on the farm were confirmed to have co-mingled with wild migratory birds which commonly carry avian influenza viruses.
Disease control. Canada’s avian influenza response protocols, agreed to by the federal and provincial governments, require that disease control measures be immediately implemented upon preliminary findings of an H5 or H7 virus since these subtypes have the potential to mutate into highly pathogenic forms.
The Winnipeg lab will attempt to grow virus from samples from the index bird in order to characterize the virus. This process will take up to two weeks. Ultimately, it may not be possible to gain further information about the virus.
Not unusual. This situation is not unusual, as was evidenced in the 2005 survey of avian influenza in wild birds. Given the initial finding of H5, a quarantine on the index premises will be maintained until test results are complete consistent with Canada’s precautionary approach and guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health.
Birds from a second premises, that had frequent contacts with the index premises, were also tested as a precautionary measure and all results were negative. A quarantine placed on the second premises has been released.
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