Project Search

sector_ico_Agrifood_trans Agrifood

Genomic Analysis of Wetland Sediment as a Tool for Avian Influenza Virus Surveillance in Wild Waterfowl

  • Project Leaders: Chelsea Himsworth, William Hsiao, Agatha Jassem, Natalie Prystajecky
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $310,450
  • Competition: Emerging Issues
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome BC
  • Fiscal Year: 2015
  • Status: Closed

This project was launched after an outbreak of highly-pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI) in the Fraser Valley from December 2014 to January 2015, which involved 11 commercial poultry production farms and two non-regulated farms; approximately 240,000 birds died or were culled; the economic impact of a similar outbreak that occurred in the same location in 2004 was close to $600M. Current surveillance techniques focusing on testing individual wild migratory waterfowl, which is believed to be source of AI, are known to be inefficient (failed to predict the 2014 outbreak). The aim of the project is to understand if sources of AI can be detected in wetlands and whether AI breakout strain can be detected through genomic tools. This project proposed to develop a new approach based on genomic analysis of wetland sediments (since waterfowl shed viruses in their feces), and ultimately use sediment surveillance with genomic tools for developing an effective provincial AI early warning system. The preliminary results has shown an up to 37 times more sensitive detection rate when compared to the current BC Ministry of Agriculture surveillance program. A follow on project to validate and implement the results from this project is under development.