Agriculture

Poultry Flock Avian Influenza Program

What is the Program?

Free veterinary examination of dead and live birds submitted by small flock owners to the province’s veterinary laboratory. The focus is on detecting the arrival of Asian strains of avian influenza in Manitoba but you will get information regarding any disease problems diagnosed in the birds.

Who Should Submit Birds?

Small flock and backyard flock owners in Manitoba can submit birds for examination.

Benefits?

You will get a report on the diseases observed in the birds submitted – including testing for avian influenza. The results are helpful for all disease problems and not just influenza. You will help determine the level of avian influenza in small flocks in Manitoba. It is useful for people to know if influenza is a common or rare event in Manitoba poultry flocks. Early detection of the Asian strain of avian influenza will help to protect all poultry flocks and their owners.

When Should You Submit Birds?

Any high mortality or large egg production drop in flocks over two weeks of age is a good reason to send in birds. Since mortality can naturally be high in very young flocks, only submit chicks or poults less than two weeks of age if you have lost five or more birds out of a hundred birds hatched or purchased.

Clinical Signs:

Sometimes large numbers of birds die from avian influenza with no clinical signs or the first sign of infection may be a large drop in egg production. Even if you do not see large numbers of sick or depressed birds, above normal mortality or loss in egg production are good reasons to submit birds.

What to Submit:

  1. It is best to send in five or more freshly dead birds. If chilled in a refrigerator, dead birds can be stored for three     days before being submitted. If dead birds must be kept longer than three days, freezing is an option – although fresh     is always best. Do not submit rotten chickens.
  2. Representative live birds can be submitted. The birds should be sick and typical of the type of problem that you are     seeing in the flock. Live birds must be transported humanely in a box with plenty of space and airflow to prevent     overheating and suffocation. Do not submit live birds in a bag or sack. Note that all live birds must be euthanized to     be fully examined for disease and cannot be returned to your farm.

How to Submit:

It is highly recommended that dead or live birds be taken directly to the province’s veterinary laboratory in Winnipeg. The laboratory is located at the main University of Manitoba campus at the south end of Winnipeg:

Office Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday
Phone: 204-945-8220

Veterinary Diagnostic Services Laboratory
Agricultural Services Complex
545 University Crescent
Winnipeg, MB, R3T 5S6

It is possible to send dead birds on the bus in a leak proof cooler clearly labeled on the outside with the name and address of the laboratory. Dead birds must double bagged to prevent leakage. Only send fresh dead birds and put a freeze pack in the cooler.

Many local veterinary clinics will accept dead birds and forward them to the laboratory in Winnipeg. However, the clinic will charge a fee for handling and shipping the birds as well as providing advice on treatment needed for any disease problems in the flock.

Submission Form:

A submission form must be completed when birds are brought to the laboratory. Information requested will include the owner name, address, phone number, and land location. A health history of the flocks is needed and will include the number of birds in the flock, number of birds dying, egg production, and appearance of the sick birds. Be sure to indicate that you are submitting under the small flock testing program. The Avian Submission Form can be completed when you bring birds to the laboratory. A copy of the form can also be obtained online from the MAFRI website.

What Happens if Avian Influenza is Found in Your Birds?

The most common strains of avian influenza presently found in wild ducks and geese in Manitoba are not major concerns in poultry and would not trigger special action by the government. If the less common but potentially deadly strains of the virus are found, the flock will be quarantined and possibly eradicated. While 99% of the strains presently found in wild waterfowl in Manitoba are not a concern, it is necessary to stop the spread of the deadly forms. With the deadly forms, agriculture and public health staff with the government will actively work to stop further spread of the virus.

Further Information:

  1. Instructions on submitting birds: Phone 204-945-8220
  2. General information on program or test results: Dr. Wayne Tomlinson  Phone:204-945-6311