Exactly how many head of commercial poultry in Canada have been lost to the 2022-23 avian influenza outbreak? That’s a tough question to answer, but it appears to be somewhere around 7 million.

While it has been a little bit easier to track how many commercial poultry birds have been lost to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the United States, it has been a little more complicated to track the losses in Canada.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reports each case on its website, and those listings include the date the case was confirmed, the county and state where it was confirmed, the type of flock involved, and how many birds were in that flock. In commercial cases, APHIS typically rounds that number off to the nearest 100.

Meanwhile, we have been relying on data from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to get information about each new case. CFIA lists each case by the date confirmed, as well as the municipality, township or county, as well as the province, where the case was confirmed.

I do appreciate the information CFIA has listed, because with their information, we know how many flocks have been affected. But when trying quantify the number of birds, and the species in which were lost, it is a little tougher.

Luckily, CFIA reports case information to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), which in turn posts reports related to those Canadian cases on its website. And that information includes the number of bird losses, but you normally need to wait a few days, and sometimes those reports can be confusing.

CFIA, does, however, have a spot on its webpage where it lists the estimated number of birds affected by HPAI, listing them by province and the an estimation of the number of birds lost.

According to the CFIA, the estimated number of birds lost for the entire country is 7,162,000, but that number includes both commercial and backyard flocks. We know Newfoundland and Labrador has had no commercial operations affected, but CFIA lists that provinces’s losses at 400 birds. New Brunswick is also in those listings, and while CFIA lists its losses as fewer than 100, again, those are backyard flocks.

With that in mind, it would be hard to tell exactly how many commercial birds were lost in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan versus backyard flocks.

In contrast, when the numbers are tallied from WOAH reports, there have been 7,121,647 head of commercial poultry lost to HPAI in Canada. All cases reported by CFIA appear to have also been reported by WOAH.

While the numbers don’t deviate by a huge amount, it’s at least significant enough that it caught my attention.

Regardless, whether 7 million birds or 700 birds in Canada have died in the HPAI outbreak, it is still too many.

The good news is that Canada has not reported any new cases in commercial poultry since January 22. Let’s hope that absence of new cases continues.

To learn more about HPAI cases in commercial poultry flocks in the United States and Canada, see an interactive map on WATTPoultry.com. 

Read our ongoing coverage of the global avian influenza outbreak.