OTTAWA, Ontario – Canada is keeping a close eye on migrating wild birds for the ninth annual Inter-Agency Wild Bird Influenza Survey, developed to detect avian influenza viruses that could threaten domestic poultry flocks and human health, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Live birds are tested to track viruses circulating in the wild bird population in addition to genetic changes and exchanges occurring in the viruses over time. Dead birds are tested to detect the presence of highly pathogenic bird flu viruses in the wild. The 2013-2014 sample size is larger compared to past surveys. The Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, which is coordinating the effort, will try to sample approximately 1,500 dead birds and between 1,000 and 2,000 live birds across Canada.

Poultry producers would be notified if the survey uncovered a virus of concern in wild birds in a location close to a poultry flock, and the CFIA would conduct heightened surveillance in domestic poultry.

The survey is part of global efforts advocated by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre is conducting the survey on behalf of the CFIA, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Environment Canada and provincial and territorial government partners.