Canada to boost avian flu surveillance

The federal government is finalizing details on how it will implement a new, enhanced surveillance program for avian flu viruses in Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Friday.

The enhanced Canadian Notifiable Avian Influenza Surveillance System (CanNAISS) has been designed to meet current guidelines from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), as well as new requirements from the European Union that take effect in January 2009, CFIA said.

“The system will provide information about NAI (notifiable avian influenza) viruses in Canada’s domestic poultry flocks that will be required for Canadian poultry farmers and processors to continue doing business internationally,” CFIA wrote.

Most avian flu viruses pose little or no animal health risk, but the H5 and H7 subtypes may lead to serious illness in birds. CanNAISS testing will identify poultry farms where these viruses may be present and enable CFIA and farmers to control potential disease spread, the agency wrote.

Canada currently monitors for NAI through wild bird surveillance; passive surveillance when clinical signs suggestive of NAI are reported; and targeted surveillance when NAI is spotted. CanNAISS will enhance these activities, through components such as on-farm, pre-slaughter surveillance, CFIA said.

The expanded CanNAISS program was developed in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, poultry farmers and other industry representatives, CFIA wrote.

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