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

Project Details

Status: Active
Investment: $633,801
Commodity: Chicken
Organization: University of Calgary
Investigator: Faizal Careem

The current highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in Alberta has impacted 32 poultry flocks including 20 commercial poultry operations leading to depopulation of close to one million birds.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

The current highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in Alberta has impacted 32 poultry flocks including 20 commercial poultry operations leading to depopulation of close to one million birds. The HPAI outbreak is linked t H5N1 sub type, and it has been attributed to death of migratory and non-migratory wild birds as well as some mammals.

Although the outbreak impacted poultry operations severely during the winter and spring, the number of cases has declined during the summer with only one case recorded during July. It is expected that cases will increase with the cooler temperatures during the fall and winter. However, it is not clear that original mode of transmission of HPAIC to the impacted poultry operations as to contamination of water and air by migratory wild birds or farm to farm spread. It is also not clear if non-migratory birds living at the vicinity of poultry operations are also playing a role in viral transmission.

This research aims to understand if the original mode of introduction of HPAICV to the layer flocks is contaminated water or air by migratory wild birds, determine the airborne HPAIV in primary control zone of HPAIV infected premises in order to understand the risk of airborne spread, and determine if non-migratory birds are playing a role in the contamination of layer premises.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

Outcomes from this project will help define effective, science-driven biosecurity procedures, and outbreak control measures. 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 these research findings reach producers on-farm?

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 poultrysite.com.

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.

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