H5N1 virus reported in Québec
Avian flu has been spreading across Québec in wild birds since April 2022. Report any sick or dead wild birds you find.
You can consult the list of infected flocks in each province by visiting the Canada Food Inspection Agency’s website (CFIA).
Temporary control measures
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has established primary control zones (PCZs) in places where flocks have tested positive. In these zones, the movement of birds, their products and by-products, and items exposed to birds is restricted. Some types of movement are prohibited, and others require a permit.
If you plan on travelling with a flock of birds, first check whether you live in a PCZ by consulting the list of active and revoked zones . Then, use the interactive tool for information on the required permits and conditions for the transportation of birds and by‑products in PCZs. For support, small-flock owners can email the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation at permisZCPdeplacement@mapaq.gouv.qc.ca.
Reporting sick or dead wild birds
The Gouvernement du Québec needs your help to quickly identify cases of avian flu.
When a carcass is reported, it may be collected for analysis. In this case, it may take one to three weeks before the result is available. You can refer to the Canadian Situation Dashboard to locate mortality events in wild birds for which analyses were conducted. The absence of a carcass tested in an area does not mean that the virus is not present in that area.
Where samples have already been collected in an area where influenza has been confirmed, the remaining carcasses will not be collected for analysis. If these carcasses cause a nuisance, they may be disposed of in household garbage according to the recommended method. If the carcasses are in a public place, it is up to the municipalities to dispose of them.
Safely dispose of a dead wild bird carcass
Generally speaking, dead bird carcasses can be placed in a bag and disposed of in household garbage.
At anytime, avoid touching the carcass with your bare hands.
Avoid contact with poultry. If this is unavoidable or if you own farmed birds, be sure to strictly follow prevention and biosecurity measures.
Follow the steps to adopt the best hygiene practices.
Declaring suspected bird flu cases in domesticated birds
If you own domesticated birds such as egg-laying hens, ducks, broilers, turkeys, geese, quail or pheasants, whether you’re a poultry farmer or a backyard farmer, you are susceptible to cases of avian flu.
Owners should pay close attention at all times to the health of their birds. Immediately isolate sick birds and contact a veterinarian.
If you cannot reach a veterinarian, call 450-768-6763 to report sick birds to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. You can also report any unusual occurrences or deaths to the ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation by calling 1‑844‑ANIMAUX (264-6289).
Highly pathogenic and low pathogenic avian flu (subtypes H5 and H7) is a notifiable disease. Veterinarians are responsible for declaring any suspected cases of the disease to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency district office in their region and to the ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation.
You can report a suspected case to the ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation by:
Why monitor avian influenza
Thanks to effective avian flu surveillance, it is possible to act quickly and limit the virus’s spread throughout Québec.
The influenzavirus can be divided into several subtypes, like the H5N1 subtype. Visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website to learn more about the different types and strains of avian influenza .
Of the different bird flu strains, virus subtypes H5 and H7 give the greatest cause for concern. Despite being low pathogenic, these strains are monitored closely as they are likely to undergo mutations and become highly pathogenic for birds.
Scientists keep influenza subtypes that are infectious to humans under close surveillance. While human cases are rare, subtypes like H5N1 and H7N9 have resulted in human deaths before.
Mutation and recombination are also important reasons for surveillance. If a virus becomes easily transmissible between humans, it could result in a pandemic. Currently, avian flu is not typically transmitted from human to human.
Surveillance in Québec and Canada
In Québec, the réseau aviaire at the ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation conducts avian influenza surveillance. The network is always on the lookout for any unusual poultry activity and publishes information and guidelines to increase vigilance and biosecurity for poultry flocks when needed.
Domesticated bird carcasses submitted for analysis will be tested for bird flu if the bird was 14 days or older. The Laboratoire de santé animale is able to identify in less than 24 hours whether the virus is present.
Veterinarians in slaughterhouses must also ensure that sick animals do not make their way into our food supply chain.
Surveillance of wild birds is handled jointly with the ministère de l'Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs and the Centre québécois sur la santé des animaux sauvages.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also conducts its own avian influenza surveillance .
Disease control measures
The Gouvernement du Québec and the poultry industry have established an action plan in case avian flu subtype H5 or H7 or a highly pathogenic strain is found in the region. This plan will help authorities respond effectively to limit the impact of the disease. It details strict steps to take to control and eliminate the virus, as well as ways to strengthen surveillance, disease prevention and biosecurity.
These control measures are coordinated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in collaboration with the Gouvernement du Québec and the poultry industry. Flocks that test positive will be quarantined and euthanized. Owners of these birds may be eligible for compensation. Depending on where the birds were kept, control measures may also be applied to flocks within 3 to 10 km of the positive case.
In case of a bird flu outbreak, stricter measures and requirements may be enforced throughout the province, such as:
- Forbidding organizing and participating in events that bring a large number of birds together, like fairs, expos and competitions
- Forbidding visits to farms or making rules for visits more strict
- Requiring owners who keep their birds outdoors to set up an enclosure without any bodies of water and equipped with a roof or netting to keep wild birds out.
Last update: July 7, 2023