Biosecurity Advisory: Avian Influenza

We have had two cases of Avian influenza (AI) confirmed in Ontario. Migratory wild birds are introducing the virus as they make their spring migration North.  Although these positive AI farms are located in Oxford County, it is reasonable to expect that there are populations of positive AI wild birds moving elsewhere in Ontario.

The attached advisory was sent out to poultry farmers by the Feather Board Command Centre. Please click here to read the full advisory.

The message is just as important for other farmers and for farm suppliers and service providers.  As farmers begin spring field work, it is extremely important that good biosecurity is followed including being conscious of where you are driving and walking.  Water, wet soil, and feces can become contaminated with AI and linger after the migrating flock has moved on.  Soil and wild bird feces can stick to tires and undercarriages of vehicles including ATVs and travel for miles.  As indicated in the FBCC advisory, fieldwork can disturb areas where wild birds have been.  Neighboring farms should advise poultry farmers if they plan to do field work adjacent to their barns.  Field equipment should be kept away from poultry barns and from driveways serving poultry premises.

Below are some additional basic biosecurity protocols to keep in mind for suppliers and service personnel.  This list is not exhaustive and may not include all activities personnel may be engaged in on farm.

  • If you are involved in the farm service sector, washing vehicles between farms is ideal and should be considered essential before visiting a poultry farm during this period of heightened biosecurity.
  • Pay special attention to the vehicle’s tires.
  • For footwear, remove obvious mud and organic matter first and then scrub boots especially the bottom tread with a  brush and hose.  Use disinfectants such as Virkon, Accel, VIROCID®, Biosentry, Biosolve Plus, Biofoam, etc.  Ensure adequate contact time and concentrations – read the label!
  • Also be sure to clean any equipment used on farm that could become contaminated, e.g. soil probes, shovels, scales, etc..
  • Ensure you are wearing clean clothing uncontaminated by soil, manure, organic matter, feathers, etc.
  • Wash your hands or use sanitizer before and after visiting the farm.
  • When on poultry farms, avoid driving near barns that contain live birds if possible.
  • Drive slowly when near barns to minimize dust.
  • Look for designated visitor parking.
  • Avoid parking by exhaust fans and air inlets unless required as part of loading or unloading.
  • Do not enter any building on the property except where you need to deliver service unless you have the express permission of the farmer or farm manager.
  • Sign the visitor log book.
  • Keep your own records identifying where you have been and when.
  • If it is not vital that you go onto a poultry farm, avoid doing so.
  • All unessential travel through or within the two quarantine zones should be avoided.

Some species of wild birds shed the AI virus in the spring and others in the fall.  So also keep these biosecurity measures in mind for fall fieldwork.

For additional information on Avian influenza and good biosecurity practices, see the following websites: