Research Project

Development of a rapid portable diagnostic device for avian influenza virus

Photo Supplied by RDAR Member: Alberta Chicken Producers

“The project offers significant benefits to the poultry and egg industry in Canada, including improved detection capabilities for AIV and the ability to prevent outbreaks from occurring.”

How will this research impact Alberta’s agriculture industry?

Avian influenza has had a significant impact on the health of chickens and turkeys. Influenza viruses affect the health and wellbeing of livestock, which directly affect producer operations and monetary incomes. There is an urgent need for low-cost, portable, and rapid screening tools to detect avian influenza infection and prevent major outbreaks.

Currently, serological testing is the most appropriate method to detect the presence of avian influenza infection in poultry. However, most serological tests are still performed in a centralized laboratory facility. In addition to the cost of the test, sample collection and shipping impose additional expenses, and wait time for results can be lengthy. This research project will aim to extend the existing point-of-care (POC) impedance-based technology to diagnose avian influenza infection within 20 minutes for less than $20 per test.

This new POC diagnostic test will enable affordable and routine monitoring of avian influenza and improved outbreak management and animal health.

Why did RDAR invest in this research project?

Avian influenza outbreaks of H5 and H7 have occurred across in Canada, and currently there is an outbreak taking place in eastern Canada. Avian flu outbreaks have occurred in British Columbia (2004, H7N3), (2005, H5N2), (2014, H5N2), Saskatchewan (2007, H5N2) and Ontario (H5N9, 1966). These pandemics were controlled by ‘stamping out’, leading to an unprecedented number of birds being destroyed.

Outcomes of this research will enable livestock producers to diagnose infection quicker and at a lower cost than previously available. The POC diagnostic test will enable affordable and routine monitoring of avian influenza and improved outbreak management and animal health.

Further, on-site diagnosis will allow rapid outbreak response, including quarantine and increased biosecurity to prevent the spread of disease to both animals and workers.

This research will enable veterinaries to use the device on site for monitoring potential pandemic outbreaks, and also for the National & Alberta emergency board for pandemic management.

How will research knowledge be transferred and shared with producers?

Strategic partners of this research are CFIA, RDAR, EFA, ACP, Alberta Innovates, and Hidaca Ltd. they will play critical roles in the transfer of knowledge and research adoption activities. Also, this research team will work with the Technology Transfer Team of Valerie Carney and Brenda Reimer of the Poultry Innovation Partnership (PIP) at the UofA to facilitate knowledge translation and research adoption by the Canadian poultry industry. PIP will engage its veterinary network and the Alberta Poultry Emergency Management Team to create technology demonstration and dissemination opportunities for the POC device.

Activities may include an Innovation Showcase webinar, on-site demonstrations, and user trials. The expected outcomes of these
knowledge and technology transfer activities include informing users, establishing protocols for use in emergency management preparedness and policy considerations and recommendations.