Research Project

Environmental monitoring of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) in Alberta with a focus on transmission to commercial poultry operations

How will this research impact Alberta’s agriculture industry?

Avian influenza virus (AIV) infection is one of the greatest concerns to the poultry industry globally. Through the spring and fall of 2022, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus (HPAI) triggered the on-farm culling of over 1.4 million birds in Alberta. This new research investment aims to reduce the impact of future HPAI outbreaks and is crucial to securing a safe food supply and a stable poultry industry in Alberta.

Dr. Faizal Careem of the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will lead a vital HPAI research project. Outcomes from this project will help define effective, science-driven biosecurity procedures, and outbreak control measures.

Dr. Careem’s research will target several areas for understanding the magnitude of the current HPAI outbreak in Alberta:

  • Identifying the route HPAI is introduced to poultry flocks – contaminated air, feed, water, or other vector.
  • Defining HPAI transmission risk in primary control zones in the period between diagnosis and depopulation.
  • Determining the role that non-migratory birds might have in HPAI outbreaks.

Why did RDAR invest in this project?

Alberta is the hardest hit province among Canadian provinces in terms of number of poultry premises impacted and number of birds depopulated due to the HPAI outbreak.

Outcomes from this research project will yield information applicable to poultry industry as well as for the
advancement of science. Given the economic importance and also the public health importance of HPAI, this research project has the potential to provide a major contribution to the Alberta’s poultry industry in addition to indirectly addressing some public health issues relevant to personnel in contact with poultry. This research project will have a strong impact on fundamental understanding of the transmission of HPAIV among poultry flocks, and as such, the advancement of science.

How will research knowledge from this project be transferred and shared with producers?

The outcome of the project will be communicated to the poultry producers and other stakeholders in a variety of ways. First, the project team will conduct meetings and communicate major outcomes of the project to these target groups. Given the critical nature of our information to poultry industry, the team will make information generated from this project available to poultry industry in an ongoing manner. Second, the team will publish observations in magazines/newsletters and web sites that provide information for poultry producers such as Canadian Poultry, Alberta Chicken Producers, the
Third, the team will communicate results via posters or oral presentations in poultry industry meetings
such as the Poultry Innovation Conference, Prairie Poultry Meeting, ‘research day’ and the Western
Poultry Disease Conference. Finally, the team intends to publish project data in scientific peer-reviewed journals.