A multi-agency, Canada-wide survey of influenza A viruses circulating in wild birds, coordinated by the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, was begun in the summer of 2005. Cloacal swab specimens collected from young-of-year ducks were screened for the presence of influenza A nucleic acids by quantitative, real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR). Specimens that produced positive results underwent further testing for H5 and H7 gene sequences and virus isolation. In addition to live bird sampling, dead bird surveillance based on RRT-PCR was also carried out in 2006 and 2007. The prevalence of influenza A viruses varied depending on species, region of the country, and the year of sampling, but generally ranged from 20% to 50%. All HA subtypes, with the exception of H14 and H15, and all NA subtypes were identified. The three most common HA subtypes were H3, H4, and H5, while N2, N6, and N8 were the three most common NA subtypes. H4N6, H3N2, and H3N8 were the three most common HA–NA combinations. The prevalence of H5 and H7 subtype viruses appears to have a cyclical nature.
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Vol. 54 • No. s1