Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

October 31, 2005 13:10 ET

Government of Canada News Release

WILD BIRD SURVEY DETECTS AVIAN INFLUENZA IN DUCKS - NO THREAT TO HUMAN HEALTH Attention: Agriculture Editor, Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, News Editor, Science Editor OTTAWA/ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 31, 2005) - OTTAWA, October 31, 2005 B A national survey of wild migratory ducks has detected avian influenza. Preliminary results indicate that 28 of the positive reactions in Quebec and five in Manitoba were due to the H5 subtype. The Public Health Agency of Canada has determined that there is no information in these findings suggesting a new threat to human health.

The detection of H5 avian influenza is not unexpected: the virus is commonly seen in migratory bird populations around the world and various types and strains have been detected in North America over the last 30 years, with no impact on human health. The birds tested in this national survey were healthy, and there is no evidence of influenza-related illness among domestic or wild birds in the test areas.

Tests to confirm the H5 type and tests to determine the N type of the virus are ongoing. Definitive findings may not be possible if there is insufficient live virus remaining in the original samples. This analysis, which is being conducted at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases in Winnipeg, will take up to a week.

Although this further testing is important to help us better understand the current situation, avian influenza viruses are found in healthy wild fowl and do not represent a significant risk to humans.

We know that subtypes of influenza have been detected in many species of apparently healthy wild birds, but we have no known cases where the virus was transmitted directly to humans.

Although the risk should therefore be considered low, an awareness of safety measures, among groups, such as hunters, that may be in contact with wild birds is important. There are several steps people can take to minimize any potential health risks from wild birds.

Persons handling wild birds should follow routine hand washing and safe food preparation practices. These include disinfecting surfaces, being careful to avoid cross contamination with other food products, keeping raw meat away from other food utensils, and thoroughly cooking all wild birds prior to eating. Following these steps is good practice to minimize risks associated with the handling and preparation of wild fowl.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continues to work with provincial governments to monitor the health of wild and domestic birds in and around the areas where sampling was conducted. The CFIA is also issuing a general notice to poultry producers, reminding them to always follow strict biosecurity practices.

The wild bird survey is a joint initiative of the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, the Government of Canada, and provincial governments. The goal of the project is to better understand the presence and characteristics of all avian influenza viruses circulating in Canada's wild bird population. Sampling of birds was conducted along migratory flight paths in seven provinces.

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For information:

Matt Tolley
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
(613) 759-1020

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Media relations: (613) 228-6682

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations: (613) 941-8189

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Contact Information

  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency Media Relations, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Primary Phone: 613-228-6682