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?

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.

Reinforcing flock biosecurity

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.

Recognizing the signs of avian influenza

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
  • diarrhea
  • 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

Reporting sick or dead birds

If you suspect birds you own have avian influenza:

If you spot a sick or dead wild bird:

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.

General orders

Effective June 14, 2023, General Order AIV2022-08, and General Order AIV2023-02 are terminated.

Due to the absence of HPAI in B.C. and Western Canada in the previous 30 days, and the end of the spring wild bird migration, these Orders, related to the commingling and outdoor keeping of birds, are rescinded. The Chief Veterinarian may instate a new General Order at any time, should they deem it necessary to control HPAI.

Infected premises and movement restrictions

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:

  • The ministry at 1-888-221-7141
  • Support is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm (PDT)
  • Your marketing board organization


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.

Health and wellness

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:

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.

If you have additional questions or inquiries, contact AgriServiceBC at 1-888-221-7141.