In light of the ongoing Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreak that has been affecting dairy cattle herds in the U.S., the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is taking proactive measures to surveil HPAI H5N1 in Canadian dairy cows and dairy products.

Similar to testing conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CFIA sampled and tested milk at retail using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine the presence of HPAI viral fragments. All of the total 303 milk samples tested by CFIA have produced negative results for HPAI viral fragments. CFIA will have discussions with its federal partners to determine next steps in terms of testing.

CFIA emphasizes that the Canadian milk supply is safe, and reinforces that pasteurization is important to inactivating microbial contaminants in dairy.

Other HPAI Prevention Measures in Canada

Milk from dairy cows in Canada must be pasteurized before sale, which is an effective control measure for HPAI contamination. CFIA referenced recent FDA findings that demonstrate that the pasteurization of dairy products is effective in inactivating HPAI, even if fragments remain.

HPAI is already a reportable disease in Canada, but CFIA and its federal partners have expanded its surveillance of the virus to mitigate its emergence by:

  • Requiring negative HPAI test results for lactating dairy cattle being imported from the United States to Canada
  • Facilitating the voluntary testing of cows that are not presenting with clinical signs of HPAI to facilitate enhanced industry biosecurity efforts.