The positive sample came from a red-tailed hawk in Waterloo Region
By Diego Flammini
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has confirmed a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
A red-tailed hawk in Waterloo Region tested positive for H5N1, the office of the chief veterinarian said in a March 21 update.
“The hawk was reported to be showing neurological signs and was euthanized,” the update says.
The disease can survive for days in litter, feed, water, soil, eggs and feathers.
Clinical signs of infected birds can include:
- decrease in feed and water consumption,
- extreme depression,
- drop in production of eggs (many of which are soft-shelled or shell-less)
- high and sudden morbidity and mortality rate,
- signs of septicemia: hemorrhages on the hocks; severe edema of eyelids, wattle and combs; haemorrhagic enteritis.
HPAI is present in multiple jurisdictions across North America through wild birds or commercial poultry operations.
In Canada, five other provinces have reported cases of HPAI. Only Manitoba, Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan haven’t.
Officials confirmed Canada’s first case of H5N1 in Newfoundland and Labrador in December 2021.
And in February of this year, as the disease spread throughout Atlantic Canada, multiple trading partners announced measures to block imports of chicken from those locations.
In the U.S., close 20 states have reported HPAI in wild birds or commercial poultry flocks.
For its part, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has implemented restrictions on Americans entering the country with live birds, eggs and poultry meat.
Biosecurity is paramount to keeping flocks safe from further infection.
“Producer and owner diligence is pivotal to select, implement and maintain specific, effective biosecurity measures,” OMAFRA’s update says.
In February 2021, the federal government announced funding for new avian flu insurance for turkey farmers.
Turkey Farmers of Ontario received almost $560,000 to develop the new insurance product.
The new insurance, once fully implemented, will be administered by the Poultry Insurance Exchange Reciprocal of Canada.