On April 10, 2022, Avian Influenza (H5N1) was confirmed in a poultry flock in the County of Wetaskiwin.
The county stated on April 11, 2022, that the infected premises has been placed under quarantine by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) who has begun an investigation and will be establishing movement control measures on other farms within the affected area.
Avian Influenza is highly pathogenic and presents a significant national concern due to its spread in wild bird populations globally and the migration of these wild birds to Canada.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says this has been an unprecedented year globally for avian flu, or bird flu as it’s also known.
Outbreaks of the highly pathogenic strain H5N1 have been detected in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta since late 2021.
So far, about 260,000 birds have been euthanized or killed by the virus in Canada. Approximately 166,000 of those were in Alberta and 84,000 were in Ontario.
While most forms of avian flu are mild, H5N1 can cause serious disease and death in birds.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency believes migratory birds are responsible for Canada’s 25 outbreaks, and expects there will be more cases as flocks continue to fly north for the summer. So far, there has been no evidence of farm-to-farm transmission.
“I think this is, in more recent memory, one of the larger number of cases in multiple provinces of avian influenza and the first time that we’ve had H5N1,” said Dr. Mary Jane Ireland, chief veterinary officer.
For poultry producers and owners with backyard flocks or pet birds, it is important to learn the symptoms of the avian flu and protective measures for your flock.
The CFIA states that infected birds may show one or more of these signs if they have bird flu:
• Lack of energy, movement, or appetite;
• Decreased egg production;
• Swelling around the head, neck, and eyes;
• Coughing, gasping for air or sneezing;
• Nervous signs, tremors or lack of coordination;
• And sudden death.
How to avoid bird flu and protect your flock from disease:
• Prevent contact with wild birds and other animals;
• Frequently clean poultry coops, waterers, feeders, your clothing and your boots;
• Spot the signs and report early;
• Limit exposure to visitors;
• Keep new birds separate when entering your flock.
If you think your birds are infected:
The CFIA states that, “bird owners are legally responsible to notify authorities of serious diseases such as bird flu.”
If you suspect your birds have bird flue call a veterinarian or your nearest Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Animal Health office.
The County asks residents to direct their calls regarding Avian Influenza to Ravinder Arora at 403-629-1728 or email Ravinder.Arora@inspection.gc.ca.
—With files from the Canadian Press