Preliminary testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of H5 avian influenza on a duck farm near St. Catharines, Ontario as a low pathogenic subtype. Pathogenicity refers to the severity of the illness caused in birds. Further testing by the CFIA is underway to confirm the precise subtype and strain of the virus. Results are expected within days.
The CFIA has placed the farm under quarantine to control disease spread and will determine a surrounding surveillance zone for further testing and movement control measures. The industry sector has been notified to adopt enhanced biosecurity practices.
Avian influenza does not pose a risk to food safety when poultry and poultry products are properly handled and cooked and rarely affects humans. Public health authorities stand ready to take precautionary measures as warranted.
All birds on the infected premises will be humanely euthanized and disposed of, in accordance with provincial environmental regulations and internationally accepted disease control guidelines, and the Province of Ontario will provide technical support on required carcass disposal. Once all birds have been removed, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfection of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools to eliminate any infectious material that may remain.
The CFIA, the Province of Ontario, the owner of the infected birds, and the poultry industry are working closely together to manage the situation. Both levels of government will work with the poultry industry to address issues as they emerge. The Canadian poultry sector currently practices a high level of biosecurity that reduces the risk of disease spread.