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Rev Sci Tech. 2009 Apr;28(1):349-58.

Avian influenza: the Canadian experience.

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  • 1Canadian Food Inspection Agency, National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3E 3M4.


Reports of sporadic avian influenza outbreaks involving domestic poultry date back to the 1960s. With the exception of A/turkey/Ontario/7732/1966 (H5N9), which was isolated from a turkey breeding establishment, all viruses characterised prior to 2004 fit the criteria of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). Only in retrospect was A/turkey/Ontario/7732/1966 shown to meet the criteria of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). In 2004, Canada reported its first case of HPAI to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreak, which began in a broiler breeder farm in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, involved an H7N3 LPAI virus which underwent a sudden virulence shift to HPAI. More than 17 million birds were culled and CAN$380 million in gross economic costs incurred before the outbreak was eventually brought under control. In its aftermath a number of changes were implemented to mitigate the impact of any future HPAI outbreaks. These changes involved various aspects of avian influenza detection and control, including self-quarantine, biosecurity, surveillance, and laboratory testing. In 2005, a national surveillance programme for influenza A viruses in wild birds was initiated. Results of this survey provided evidence for wild birds as the likely source of an H5N2 LPAI outbreak that occurred in domestic ducks in the Fraser Valley in the autumn of 2005. Wild birds were once again implicated in an H7N3 HPAI outbreak involving a broiler breeder operation in Saskatchewan in 2007. Fortunately, both of these outbreaks were limited in extent, a consequence of some of the changes implemented in response to the 2004 British Columbia outbreak.

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