Avian influenza (AI)
Avian influenza (AI) is a viral infection that affects food-producing birds, pet birds and wild birds. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of AI in British Columbia. Check for recent detections on CFIA’s website.
On this page:
- What is avian influenza?
- Reinforcing flock biosecurity
- Recognizing the signs of avian influenza
- Reporting sick or dead birds
- General orders
- Infected premises and movement restrictions
- Disposal of avian influenza infected waste
- Health and wellness
There are two classifications of AI viruses based on the severity of the illness caused in birds:
- Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). Typically causes little or no signs of illness in infected birds.
- Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Causes severe illness and death in birds.
HPAI and certain LPAI viruses are considered to be notifiable avian influenza, which is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act. All cases must be reported to the CFIA.
AI can be transmitted from bird to bird through secretions and feces, and indirectly through human movement, contaminated feed, water, and equipment. Preparedness measures help bird owners take preventative steps to protect their flock and prepare in the event of an AI outbreak.
Familiarize yourself with flock health best practices
Resources are available to help you prevent and detect disease.
Attend an information session
Small flock owners can learn how to protect your birds, recognize the signs of AI and how to report.
- No public information sessions are scheduled at this time. To request a virtual session in your area or with your organization, please reach out via email to PAHB@gov.bc.ca.
Small flock communications study
All Small Flock Owners are encouraged to take part in the Small Flock Communications Study being lead by Dr. Cassandra Andrew, Veterinarian, UBC Graduate Student. The study is being conducted by the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the BC and Yukon Governments.
Dr. Andrew is partnering with us to learn more about small flock owners and how they can be supported to prevent avian influenza in their flocks. Participation is voluntary. Through the survey, you can also sign up to participate in a 30-60 minute phone/Zoom interview.
Guidance on maintaining backyard bird feeders
Environment Canada offers guidance on feeding wild birds in your backyard. Keep domestic birds safe by following their use and care tips for bird feeders and baths. Be aware that wild birds are the main source of AI.
Set-up Premises Identification
Premises Identification (ID) information is used to plan for and manage emergencies affecting livestock. The Premises ID program improves the ministry's ability to:
- notify animal owners
- contain pest and animal disease outbreaks
- respond to natural disasters like floods or fires
B.C. poultry and livestock owners and commingling site operators must register. There is no cost to take part in the program. Learn more about Premises ID or register your premises.
The most important sign of AI is a sudden, unexplained increase in flock mortality. Some or all of the following clinical signs are also evident in infected birds:
- a drop in production of eggs, many of which are soft-shelled or shell-less
- hemorrhages on the hock
- high and sudden mortality rate
- quietness and extreme depression
- swelling of the skin under the eyes
- wattles and combs become swollen and congested
If you suspect birds you own have avian influenza:
- Call your veterinarian
- Contact your nearest Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Animal Health office
- Call the BC Animal Health Centre at 1-800-661-9903
Bird owners are legally responsible to notify authorities of serious bird diseases such as bird flu. Do not take sick birds off the property.
For all other inquiries, contact AgriServiceBC at 1-888-221-7141.
Commercial chicken and turkey to remain indoors
Effective October 20, 2023, the Chief Veterinarian has issued General Order AIV 2023-03 (PDF, 246 KB).
All persons responsible for chickens and turkeys in operations regulated by one of the following:
- the BC Broiler Hatching Egg Commission;
- the BC Chicken Marketing Board;
- the BC Egg Marketing Board;
- the BC Turkey Marketing Board; (each a “Board or Commission”)
and who hold quota from their relevant Marketing Board or Commission are subject to this Order.
All live Poultry kept by the persons subject to this order must be maintained indoors unless this order is otherwise modified by the further order of an inspector.
For certainty, the above required action does not limit the sales, transportation or slaughter of Poultry, or the disposal of Poultry carcasses.
Commingling with conditions is allowed for birds maintained in areas other than the Lower Mainland; commingling is not permitted in the Lower Mainland
The following classes of persons are subject to this order:
- All persons responsible for birds, where the birds are located in the Lower Mainland;
- All persons responsible for birds, where the birds are located outside of the Lower Mainland; and
- All persons attending a Commingling Event
This Order applies to persons responsible for the following types of birds:
- Guinea fowl
The following are Commingling Events:
- Poultry swaps
- Flea markets
- Bird shows
- Public displays
- Competitions where birds from multiple sources would be present
Persons responsible for birds in the Lower Mainland must not take birds to Commingling Events
Persons responsible for birds outside of the Lower Mainland must not take birds to Commingling Events in the Lower Mainland
Persons responsible for birds outside of the Lower Mainland may take birds to Commingling Events that take place outside of the Lower Mainland under the following conditions:
- For 10 days preceding the Commingling Event:
- The birds are maintained in a closed flock;
- Clean, dedicated boots, gloves and over-clothing must be donned and doffed at the entrance to the closed flock housing area by all persons who enter and exit the closed area;
- Equipment movement into the closed flock housing area must be minimized, and any required equipment must be clean and dry before it is moved into the closed flock housing area;
- Wild birds are excluded from the flock area; and
- The closed flock shows no signs of illness.
- At the Commingling Event:
- All persons responsible for birds outside of the Lower Mainland must not permit any person, other than persons who live or work on the premises of origin of the birds, to handle and provide care to the birds, with the exception of purchasers, who may handle any purchased birds but only in order to remove them from the Commingling Event;
- All persons responsible for birds outside of the Lower Mainland must maintain a distance of 2 metres between birds from different premises, and between birds and the public; and
- All persons attending a Commingling Event must use boot wash and hand sanitizer before entering and before exiting the Commingling Event.
An infected premises (IP) occurs when an HPAI detection is confirmed through laboratory testing. CFIA places an IP under quarantine. Learn about what to expect if your birds are infected.
CFIA may also create a Primary Control Zone (PCZ) around an IP. PCZs restrict the movement of poultry and poultry related products and equipment within a 10 km radius of an IP.
Are you in a Primary Control Zone?
You can see the location of active PCZs on the CFIA web site using the interactive Avian Influenza Zone Map.
Permits and movement control permissions
If your flock is in an active PCZ, you will need a permit to move your birds, their products, and by-products. Permits are required for both small and commercial flocks. Use CFIA’s interactive tool to find information on permits and conditions.
Direct questions about permits and movement restrictions to:
Disposal of Avian Influenza Infected Wastes
Disposal of Avian Influenza Infected Wastes is subject to the Environmental Management Act. For more information on regulatory requirements, refer to the Avian Influenza Waste page .
When will a PCZ be revoked?
The PCZ revocation process begins when the last IP in a PCZ has completed primary decontamination. The number of days required to complete the revocation process may vary. Learn about the path to revoking a primary control zone.
Animals bring many benefits to people’s lives. But they can also be a source of diseases in people.
Is avian influenza a risk for people?
AI viruses can, on rare occasions, cause disease in humans. Transmission has occurred in people with close contact with infected birds or heavily contaminated environments. HealthLinkBC provides more information about identifying and preventing AI in people.
Maintaining a safe and healthy workplace
People working or in contact with AI infected or suspect birds can take actions to prevent the spread of AI:
- Wear protective clothing, including face masks, goggles, gloves and boots
- Get an annual vaccination against seasonal human influenza. This reduces the chance that you become infected with both human and bird flu strains at the same time. Find a flu vaccine clinic near you.
Follow biosecurity procedures for your activities:
- Biosecurity procedures for drivers of vehicles/equipment on Infected Premises (PDF, 155 KB)
- Guidance for municipal landfill and transfer station staff (PDF, 141 KB)
Staying healthy in stressful times
Loss of animals to AI can have a profound effect on our lives and our wellbeing. Help and resources for people who need to talk or feel overwhelmed are available.
- AgriServiceBC’s health and wellness preparedness tools
- Dealing with uncertainty: Your mental health in times of crisis (PDF, 233 KB)
If you have additional questions or inquiries, contact AgriServiceBC at 1-888-221-7141.