The National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) newest high biocontainment laboratory. One of the functions of the NCFAD is to serve as a national reference laboratory for avian influenza. Between 1997 and 2001, 15 avian influenza virus isolates were characterized. These isolates originated from domestic poultry, imported caged birds held in quarantine, and wild birds. Diagnostic specimens were submitted to the NCFAD by CFIA field veterinarians, provincial veterinary diagnostic laboratories, and veterinary colleges. Characterization of isolates included the determination of H and N subtypes: H1, H6, H7, and H10 subtypes were isolated from domestic poultry; H3, H4, and three H13 viruses were isolated from water fowl, and six H3 viruses were isolated from caged birds being held in import quarantine. Selected isolates were characterized with respect to their pathogenic potential by intravenous inoculation of 4-to-6-wk-old chickens. A molecular-based protocol was used to assess the pathogenicity of one H7 isolate. During this period, work was also carried out toward validating our molecular pathotyping protocol for avian influenza viruses with H5 and H7 hemagglutinin subtypes.
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