Just about two weeks after the outbreak of HPAI H5N2 in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley began we saw the first reports of HPAI H5N8 & H5N2 Detected In Washington State Wild Birds, recorded in Whatcom County along the Canadian Border only a few miles south of the infected Canadian poultry farms.
Whatcom County, WA
While only a closely related H5N2 strain has been reported in Canadian poultry and wild birds, the assumption has been pretty much that H5N8 must have at least passed through the area last fall, even though it had not shown up in surveillance.
On the American side of the border, of 59 wild bird isolates identified thus far, 18 have been H5N8, 3 have been H5N1, and the rest have been H5N2.
Today the OIE has announced that a juvenile American Wigeon, collected near Abbotsford, BC in February (very near the Whatcom County border), has tested positive for a wholly Eurasian H5N8 virus, very similar to the one collected in Washington State (see USGS: Genetic Analysis Of North American Reassortant H5N1 Virus From Washington State).
You’ll note that although we are just now hearing about it, this bird was collected in February. The surprise here isn’t that H5N8 has finally been detected in Canada, but that it has taken this long to confirm it.
This from the OIE.
Source of the outbreak(s) or origin of infection
- Contact with wild species
Canada conducts surveillance for avian influenza in wild birds. In addition, enhanced surveillance was undertaken in wild birds in response to the event in poultry (H5N2) in the province of British Columbia (BC) in December 2014.
This sample was collected in February 2015 as part of the enhanced surveillance undertaken by BC. The sample was received from the BC provincial laboratory by the Canadian Food inspection Agency (CFIA) National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) on 25 March 2015 for further testing. The results confirmed HPAI H5N8 virus with an IVPI of 2.73. Sequencing of the H5N8 virus isolated indicates it is a wholly Eurasian H5N8 and very similar to the H5N8 virus that was isolated from the gyrfalcon in Washington State in December 2014.
This is the first report of a H5N8 HPAI virus detection in Canada. This virus has NOT been found in commercial poultry anywhere in Canada. In accordance with the Terrestrial Animal Health Code Article 10.4.1, Member Countries should not impose bans on the trade of poultry commodities in response to notification of influenza A virus in wild birds.