Surveillance for avian influenza viruses in wild birds was initiated in Canada in 2005. In 2006, in order to maximize detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses, the sampling protocol used in Canada's Inter-agency Wild Bird Influenza Survey was changed. Instead of collecting a single cloacal swab, as previously done in 2005, cloacal and oropharyngeal swabs were combined in a single vial at collection. In order to compare the two sampling methods, duplicate samples were collected from 798 wild dabbling ducks (tribe Anatini) in Canada between 24 July and 7 September 2006. Low pathogenic avian influenza viruses were detected significantly more often (P<0.0001) in combined oropharyngeal and cloacal samples (261/798, 33%) than in cloacal swabs alone (205/798, 26%). Compared to traditional single cloacal samples, combined samples improved virus detection at minimal additional cost.
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Vol. 47 • No. 2