First detected in Atlantic Canada in December 2021, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) subtype H5N1 clade, A/Goose/Guangdong/1/96 lineage, has caused massive mortality in wild birds and domestic poultry in North America. Swallows (Hirundinidae), abundant in North American agricultural ecosystems, have been proposed as possible (bridge) species for HPAIV transmission between wild and domestic birds. We aimed to seek evidence of the potential role of swallows in bridging AIV infection between wild bird reservoirs and poultry flocks in eastern Canada. During a wide-scale outbreak of HPAIV in wild birds and poultry farms across eastern Canada, 200 samples were collected from swallow breeding sites in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec, June–August 2022. Samples came from Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica; n=142), Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor; n=56), and Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota; n=2) nests. All samples tested negative for AIV, suggesting that HPAIV and low pathogenic AIV (LPAIV) strains were probably not circulating widely in swallows during the 2022 breeding season in eastern Canada; thus swallows may present a low risk of transmitting AIV. Within a management context, these findings suggest that removing nests of Barn Swallows, a species at risk in Canada, from the exterior of biosecure domestic poultry facilities may not significantly reduce risks of HPAI transmission to poultry.

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