Avian Flu Viruses Added to Reportable Diseases List

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: The Government of Canada has strengthened its approach to controlling avian influenza in domestic poultry by adding low pathogenicity H5 and H7 avian influenza viruses to the list of reportable diseases.

Most avian influenza viruses are low pathogenicity and typically cause few or no visible signs of illness in infected birds. However, H5 and H7 viruses have the potential to mutate into a highly pathogenic form and cause high mortality in domestic poultry.

Effective immediately, all suspected or confirmed cases of low pathogenicity H5 and H7, as well as all highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses, must be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

"This amendment underscores the Government of Canada's commitment to protecting animal health, public health and the economic viability of our poultry industry," said Canada's Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Brian Evans. "We remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent, prepare for and respond to avian influenza."

The amended Reportable Diseases Regulations formalize Canada's current approach to controlling avian influenza in domestic poultry but do not significantly change what the CFIA does to respond to disease outbreaks.

When reportable avian influenza viruses are found in domestic poultry, the CFIA works with industry and provincial and territorial government partners to contain and eradicate the disease, and to re-establish Canada's disease-free status as soon as possible.

The CFIA monitors domestic poultry for highly pathogenic avian influenza, as well as low pathogenicity H5 and H7 viruses, under the Canadian Notifiable Avian Influenza Surveillance Program (CanNAISS). CanNAISS is a joint initiative of the government, industry and farmers, and meets World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards. In addition, the CFIA participates in Canada's Inter-Agency Wild Bird Influenza Survey, which tracks avian influenza viruses circulating in the wild that could be of concern to the poultry industry.

For more information on avian influenza, visit the CFIA website at www.inspection.gc.ca