Avian Influenza (AI)

Avian influenza, commonly known as "bird flu," that can infect domesticated and wild birds, including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl is caused by a type A influenza virus. There are many different strains of influenza A virus occurring naturally in wild aquatic birds, most of which are not of significant animal or public health concern.

Avian influenza is not a threat to food safety and Ontario poultry is safe to eat. As always, proper cooking times and temperatures, and proper handling techniques should be used with poultry meat or eggs.


A low pathogenic subtype of H5 avian influenza was detected on a duck farm near St. Catharines, Ontario. The CFIA is leading the response to this incident and has placed the farm under quarantine. Poultry farmers and backyard small flock owners are encouraged to maintain strict biosecurity to prevent future outbreaks of avian influenza.


Clinical Signs

Some or all of the following clinical signs are evident in infected birds:

  • a drop in production of eggs, many of which are soft-shelled or shell-less
  • coughing and sneezing
  • diarrhea
  • haemorrhages on the hock
  • high and sudden mortality rate
  • quietness and extreme depression
  • swelling of the skin under the eyes
  • wattles and combs become swollen , discoloured and congested

The incubation period of avian influenza ranges from 2 to 14 days.

If you suspect avian influenza at your farm contact your veterinarian immediately.

Biosecurity for Commercial Flocks

Biosecurity for Small Flocks

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca