Turkeys and Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza (AI), sometimes referred to as avian flu or bird flu, is an infectious disease that can affect wild and domestic birds, including turkeys.

The disease is characterized by a wide range of responses, from virtually no clinical signs to high mortality, depending on the strain and virulence of the virus. The virus can appear in either low pathogenic or high pathogenic forms, referring to the impact the virus has on birds, not on the degree of threat to human health. Only on very rare occasions does it cause illness/disease in humans.

To date, all outbreaks of the highly pathogenic form of Avian Influenza have been caused by influenza A viruses of subtypes H5 and H7. The H5 strain is of greater concern, due to its strength and ability to mutate.

Avian influenza is primarily a virus that affects birds; the virus does not affect the safety of food for consumption.

Avian Influenza has been a reportable disease in Canada since 1985, which means that any suspicion of the existence of Avian Influenza must be reported to the nearest veterinarian to ensure that any potential spread of the disease is terminated or controlled. Canada has one of the world’s highest health and safety standards and a comprehensive veterinary inspection system.

The Canadian Poultry Industry, together with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, has introduced numerous protocols to ensure containment of the disease should it occur.

Further information and current updates on Avian Influenza can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website:

For information on the National Avian On-Farm Biosecurity Standard or to download the entire document: