Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in North America

Since December 2014, 15 states in the USA and two Canadian provinces have reported incidents of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The virus has primarily been identified as the H5N2 strain commonly found in wild birds during spring migration on the North American flyways. The latest outbreak in Canada occurred on April 23, 2015 in a turkey flock in Oxford County, Ontario.

The USA states immediately south of Manitoba have been impacted, particularly Minnesota and Iowa. Minnesota has reported a total of 108 poultry farms in 23 counties infected with the H5N2 strain of the virus and affecting almost 9.0 million birds. Iowa has reported a total of 77 poultry farms infected in 18 counties, involving about 31.5 million of the total 48.1 million birds affected by the outbreak. No new farms have been confirmed positive since June 17, 2015. States of emergency have been declared in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin to address the outbreak.

Currently within Manitoba, there are no suspect cases. Manitoba's poultry associations, Manitoba Agriculture, the CFIA and other provincial and federal agencies continue to work closely to evaluate the risks to Manitoba poultry from the current North American outbreak.
Mortality in the affected flocks, for the H5N2 strain of the virus, is reported to be very high, in some cases exceeding 90% within 2-3 days of first symptoms. The affected states are working to control the outbreaks in the commercial poultry operations with the use of eradication measures.

The risk to human health is considered low by public health agencies in the USA and Canada.

Producers should be concerned as the current H5N2 strain could be a significant risk to their flock.

Impact on Import and Export of Poultry Products

  •  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has placed restrictions on poultry and poultry products from the affected states. These restrictions will be adjusted to control zones once those states provide evidence of effective control procedures.
  • As Manitoba is involved in considerable trade with poultry industries in Minnesota and Arkansas, trade restrictions have had a significant impact. Those hatcheries that source eggs or chicks from the affected states are now sourcing from unaffected states.
  • Transporters delivering live birds or eggs into affected states are taking extra biosecurity precautions to ensure vehicles have been properly cleaned and disinfected before returning to Manitoba.


Poultry farmers are urged to take an active role in protecting their flocks by employing strict biosecurity measures on their properties and to immediately report any suspicion of Avian Influenza to the Chief Veterinary Office (CVO).


Biosecurity Concerns 

  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the CFIA have indicated that wild birds are most likely the source and carriers of the H5N2 strain of the virus. It is believed that wild water fowl during the 2015 spring migration may pose a significant threat to Manitoba's domestic poultry.

Wild migratory birds are a known reservoir of the Avian Influenza virus. Flocks with outdoor access may be at higher risk of exposure and producers are asked to be vigilant in their biosecurity practices. 

  • Producers are encouraged to review biosecurity plans and practices, and implement strict biosecurity measures to avoid exposure of their flocks to wild water fowl, especially feces.
  • Separate footwear and clothing or disposable boots and coveralls are considered essential for all staff and visitors entering poultry facilities.
  • Steps to ensure all feed sources and water supplies are not exposed to wild water fowl are also recommended.
  • Finally, reduce movement onto yards and into barns to only essential needs (ex: feed trucks, egg pick up, etc.). Where possible, other external contacts (ex: delivery of supplies, garbage pickup, etc.) should occur off the yard, at the farm gate (outside the controlled access zone).


Controlling entry at the farm gate and the barn door are the last line of biosecurity defense.
The CVO requests that all poultry producers continue to be vigilant in their biosecurity practices.



Additional Resources

  • Avian Influenza and Your Small Poultry Flock (FAQ)


For more information, or if you suspect any animal health related concerns, please contact the Chief Veterinary Office at chiefveterinaryoffice@gov.mb.ca or call 204-945-7684 in Winnipeg.