Alberta egg farmers were invited to join the poultry industry for an Avian Influenza Town Hall Call on March 30, to learn from experts on topics related to keeping disease off your farm, AI outbreaks occurring around the world, on-farm feed mixing risks, and effective cleaning & disinfecting of your transition zones and equipment.  If you missed the call, it was recorded and posted on the producer website (www.albertaeggproducers.ca/emergency-preparedness/avian-influenza), where you can listen in full.

Alberta Agriculture gave an update on the current state of Avian Influenza around the world:

  • H5N6 is currently circulating in Japan and Korea, and has caused them to cull more than 30 million birds since November of last year.
  • China has multiple strains circulating. H7N9 first appeared in 2013. It is low pathogenicity to birds, but is passed from animals to humans and has caused human mortality since 2016. It is only found in poultry during trace-backs from infected humans. 1,364 cases have been confirmed in humans with almost 500 mortalities.
  • Wild bird strain H5N8 was first diagnosed in June 2016, when it was causing disease and mortality in migratory wild fowl. This strain has a high potential to spread – since October when first cases were identified in Germany, it has spread to 36 countries in EU, Africa, and the Middle East. There have been 618 outbreaks in wild birds and 400+ in commercial poultry.
  • In North America there was an H5N2 detection in January, in a wild duck in Montana. This is the same strain the US dealt with in 2015. In March, there were 2 cases of High Path [Tennessee] and 5 of Low Path [Tennessee, Wisconsin, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia]. These are all in the Mississippi flyaway that crosses over the prairies when birds fly to Alaska.

The number one way to protect your flock is to keep yourself and your hens away from wild birds!

Presenters also talked about feed mixing as a potential source of disease introduction. The wet harvest season has meant that in some parts of the province there are a large number of crops still left in the field. Viruses survive well in cold conditions and can be building on crops. A lot of producers will blend feeds on farm with their own grain. At this time of the year, it is important to question where the grain has been.