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Canada: Ottawa prepares for annual wild bird survey

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  • Canada: Ottawa prepares for annual wild bird survey


    Ottawa prepares for annual wild bird survey to detect bird-flu levels
    By Laura Baziuk, Postmedia News August 5, 2011

    OTTAWA Food inspection agents are gearing up to conduct their annual survey of wild birds to check current levels of avian influenza.

    The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued an advance contract notice, which closes next week, for companies interested in overseeing the survey, which examines both dead and live birds all over the country and detects levels and patterns of bird flu.

    The study, first launched in 2005, identifies disease-causing strains, such as the deadly H5N1, in wild geese, ducks, swans and other fowl so government officials can better determine how to stop their spread should there be an outbreak.

    This year, government workers plan to take swabs from about 600 dabbling ducks, such as the blue-winged teal in the Prairies, and another 2,000 samples from various aquatic birds in Quebec, Nunavut and the Maritimes. The samples are tested at a lab in Winnipeg and the results are compiled in a national database.

    "It's important to follow the whole avian influenza development because there may be different strains, many different types, that can (evolve)," said Soren Alexandersen, executive director of the CFIA's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease. "We follow them over the multiple years, we track the genetic changes in these viruses, so that if they should get into poultry and present a risk to animal health and maybe public health, we already have background information as to which particular viruses are among the wild birds..."