The Ontario Animal Health Act, 2009 (AHA) came into force in January of 2010. It gives the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) important tools to detect and respond to findings of significant animal health hazards or animal-related risks to public health in Ontario. This legislation helps keep animals healthy and the agri-food industry strong, which in turn protects Ontario families and strengthens Ontario's economy.

Regulations require laboratories and veterinarians to report certain hazards and findings. On January 1, 2013, regulations came into force under the AHA that helps OMAFRA to better detect and monitor serious and emerging animal health hazards. Under the Regulation for the Reporting of Hazards and Findings (O. Reg. 277/12), veterinary diagnostic laboratories operating in Ontario must report certain laboratory test results, and veterinarians licensed in Ontario must report certain findings to the Office of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario (OCVO) at OMAFRA.

Reporting requirements

Animal owners, veterinarians and laboratories continue to be responsible for reporting some diseases to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as they have in the past. In addition to responsibilities for reporting to the CFIA, effective January 1, 2013, laboratories and veterinarians must report the situations described below to the OCVO at OMAFRA.

Laboratories operating in Ontario must report information related to laboratory test positive results for hazards listed in the regulation as Immediately Notifiable Hazards and Periodically Notifiable Hazards (read Table 1 for a list of hazards in each category). If an Ontario veterinarian or their client submits samples to a laboratory in Ontario that subsequently test positive for any of the Immediately Notifiable Hazards listed, it is the responsibility of the laboratory (not the submitting veterinarian), to notify the OCVO of those results immediately. However, if an Ontario veterinarian submits samples to a laboratory outside of Ontario that subsequently test positive for an Immediately Notifiable Hazard, the Ontario veterinarian is responsible for notifying the OCVO of those results immediately upon receipt from the non-Ontario laboratory. Only positive laboratory tests for listed hazards are to be reported by laboratories or veterinarians as above.

Laboratories are facilities carrying out operations and procedures for the examination of samples and specimens submitted by a third party from living or dead animals, animal products, animal by-products, inputs, fomites, vectors, waste material and other things related to animals to which this Act or the regulations apply in order to inform a diagnosis, prophylaxis, treatment or other veterinary analysis in respect of a hazard.

OMAFRA recognizes that many different laboratory tests exist and continue to evolve for various hazards. Therefore, a "positive" laboratory test result includes any of the following, specific to any of the notifiable hazards listed in the regulation for which the laboratory has declared the sample test positive, according to that laboratory’s testing protocols in place at the time:

  • the isolation or chemical identification of the hazard
  • a positive nucleic acid-based test
  • a positive antigen-based test
  • a positive immunological response-based test (indicative of disease and not including immune response to vaccination)
  • the presence of a pathognomonic lesion

Situations of serious risk

Veterinarians must report situations of "serious risk" immediately after making a finding. As a guideline, this includes any animal disease situation that presents a very serious and unusual risk to animal health, food safety or public health. It may be indicated by an unusual cluster of disease or unusually high mortality. Examples include outbreaks of serious emerging animal diseases on multiple premises or known contamination of an animal feed source with a toxic chemical that is likely to subsequently enter the human food chain. This regulation provides a means for such situations to be brought to the attention of authorities. Such serious situations are expected to arise infrequently, such that individual veterinarians may expect to be required to make such reports only rarely.

As a guideline, immediate reporting means as soon as is reasonably possible and within 18 hours of becoming aware of the specific positive laboratory test result or a finding of a serious risk. The information required to be included in the respective reports is described below.

How to make a report

Ontario laboratories reporting laboratory test positive results for Immediately Notifiable Hazards (or Ontario veterinarians reporting positive results from laboratories outside Ontario), must do so by e-mailing the required information to All emails sent to that address are automatically forwarded to the OMAFRA veterinary team in the OCVO.

A veterinarian reporting a finding of a "serious risk" must phone the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300. An operator is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to receive calls. Amongst other things, the veterinarian must state clearly that they are a veterinarian making a report to the OCVO at OMAFRA. The party receiving the call will collect basic information including the veterinarian's name, contact number and the nature of the report. They will then forward that information to the appropriate member of the OMAFRA veterinary team in the OCVO.

Depending on the situation, an OMAFRA veterinarian may contact the reporting laboratory or veterinarian to discuss the situation to ensure that OMAFRA veterinarians understand the context of the situation correctly. There is an OMAFRA veterinarian available 7 days a week, 365 days a year, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. to assess such reports.

Information to be included in a report

The content of a report will vary depending on the type of report and on the information available at the time of the report. The responding OMAFRA veterinarian will work with reporting laboratories and veterinarians to ensure that the appropriate information is captured. Read the formal regulation for a complete list of information to be included in reports.

Information needed when reporting a positive laboratory test for an Immediately Notifiable Hazard

When reporting a positive laboratory test for an Immediately Notifiable Hazard, you must include the:

  • name of and contact information for the laboratory or veterinarian making the report
  • name of and contact information for the person who submitted the specimen, as well as the veterinarian (if any) who requested the sample be submitted to the laboratory
  • name of the Immediately Notifiable Hazard that is the subject of the report
  • laboratory test(s) method(s) and result(s) providing information about the hazard, including information about serovars or subtypes of the hazard detected, if available
  • date the sample or specimen was submitted to the laboratory
  • laboratory case submission (number or identification) code
  • location (municipal address) at which the specimen was taken or collected
  • name and contact information for the owner and custodian of the animals involved
  • type including species and breed(s), purpose, and approximate ages
  • number of animals by type, including species and breed(s) that were at risk, clinically ill, and dead, in relation to the situation, at the time the samples were collected

Information needed when reporting a finding of Serious Risk

When reporting a finding of Serious Risk, you must include:

  • the contact information for the veterinarian making the report
  • a description of the finding that is the subject of the report, including
    • the date and time of the finding
    • the name of any hazard that the veterinarian suspects
    • a description of the clinical presentation of the disease, including the date of onset of clinical signs and any adverse effects that have occurred or may occur
    • the veterinarian's differential diagnoses
    • the current course of treatment if treatment is being provided
  • a description of the control measures taken
  • a description of the steps that have been taken to determine the cause of the serious risk
  • all other information to the veterinarian's knowledge that is relevant to the finding

If samples or specimens have been submitted to a laboratory in relation to the finding, include:

  • the name and contact information of the laboratory
  • the date the samples or specimens were submitted to the laboratory
  • a description of the testing requested, and the results, if they are known

If the finding is in respect of an animal or thing related to an animal (such as a product), include:

  • the contact information for every veterinarian who provides services to the animal(s)
  • the contact information for the owner and custodian of the animal(s) or thing(s)
  • the location of the animal(s) or thing(s) (municipal address) and any unique identifiers that would assist in determining the location of the animal(s) or thing(s)
  • the species, purpose and approximate ages of the animals involved
  • the number of animals (by type, including species and breed(s)) that were at risk, clinically ill and dead in relation to the situation, at the time of the finding

Annual reporting by laboratories for Periodically Notifiable Hazards

Once a year, veterinary diagnostic laboratories in Ontario are also required to submit data to OMAFRA on tests conducted for the list of Periodically Notifiable Hazards (Table 1). This is the responsibility of Ontario laboratories and not veterinarians in clinical practice. This is in addition to laboratories reporting Immediately Notifiable Hazards as described above. These annual reports provide information on disease trends and illustrate animal health surveillance coverage in Ontario. Annual reports must be submitted electronically to OMAFRA by January 31 and contain the data for the previous calendar year. Since laboratories differ in the range of diagnostic testing they offer, OMAFRA staff will work directly with individual veterinary laboratories operating in Ontario to establish electronic file formats and data transfer procedures. Read the formal regulation for a complete list information to be included in annual reports.

Examples of the information needed in laboratory reports for each specimen tested during the previous year for Periodically Notifiable Hazards include the:

  • name of the periodically notifiable hazard for which the specific test was conducted
  • laboratory case submission code and date the specimen was received at the laboratory
  • species and purpose of the animal(s) from which the specimen was collected
  • type of specimen that was tested
  • test(s), method(s) and result(s), indicating whether the sample tested positive, negative or inconclusive
  • information about the serovars or subtypes of the notifiable hazard detected, if available
  • name of the municipality in which the animal(s) or thing(s) sampled was located at the time the specimen was collected
  • number of animals (by type, including species and breed(s)) that were at risk, clinically ill and dead in relation to the situation, at the time the samples were collected

After a report is submitted

Upon receiving a report of a notifiable hazard or serious risk, or upon seeing a significant trend in an annual report regarding a notifiable hazard, OMAFRA will consult with appropriate experts to assess the risk of the situation and respond in a manner that is proportionate to the risk presented by the situation. Depending on the circumstances and level of risk, OMAFRA's response may include:

  • recording the event and waiting to see if other test positives or situations are reported
  • working with laboratories, veterinarians or owners to conduct more tests
  • working with affected veterinarians and owners to manage the situation
  • publishing notices (without specific names or addresses) advising veterinarians and owners on how to manage similar situations
  • working with industry to manage the situation
  • encouraging specific research or surveys
  • working with animal health partners provincially and federally
  • using disease control tools of the AHA

Notifiable hazards to be reported by laboratories to the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario

The following table identifies the hazards that are immediately notifiable (based on positive laboratory results only) or periodically notifiable by Ontario veterinary laboratories to the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario, by the authority of the Reporting of Hazards and Findings regulation under the AHA. Clinical cases that are not supported by a laboratory test specific for the notifiable hazard of concern should not be reported unless they are considered a Serious Risk.

Veterinarians are required to submit immediately notifiable reports only upon receipt of a positive test result from a laboratory outside Ontario. Veterinarians are not required to provide reports on periodically notifiable hazards.

List of immediately notifiable and periodically notifiable hazards by regulation under the Ontario Animal Health Act, 2009

Table 1: List of immediately notifiable and periodically notifiable hazards by regulation under the Ontario AHA
Hazard nameImmediately notifiable (based on laboratory positive)Periodically (annually) notifiable by labs
Aino virusYesNo
Aethina tumida (Small hive beetle)YesNo
African horse sickness virus*YesNo
African swine fever virus*YesNo
Akabane virusYesNo
Anaplasma centraleYesNo
Anaplasma marginaleYesNo
Anaplasma ovisYesNo
Anaplasma phagocytophilumNoYes
Anatid alphaherpesvirus 1 (Duck virus enteritis)NoYes
Aphanomyces invadans (Epizootic ulcerative syndrome)YesNo
Avian encephalomyelitis virusYesNo
Avian infectious laryngotracheitis virusYesNo
Avian metapneumovirus (Turkey viral rhinotracheitis)YesNo
Avian orthoavulavirus 1/Avian paramyxovirus 1 (Newcastle disease)*YesNo
Avibacterium paragallinarum (Infectious coryza)NoYes
Avipox (Fowl pox)NoYes
Babesia caballi (Equine piroplasmosis)*YesNo
Babesia equi (Equine piroplasmosis)*YesNo
Babesia spp. (Bovine babesiosis)YesNo
Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax)YesNo
Batrachochytrium spp. (Chytridiomycosis)YesNo
Besnoitia spp. (Besnoitiosis)YesNo
Blastomyces dermatitidis (Blastomycosis)NoYes
Bluetongue virus*YesNo
Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)NoYes
Bovine ephemeral fever virusYesNo
Bovine leukemia virus (Enzootic bovine leukosis)NoYes
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy*YesNo
Bovine viral diarrhea virusNoYes
Brachyspira hampsonii Clade INoYes
Brachyspira hampsonii Clade IINoYes
Brachyspira hyodysenteriaeNoYes
Brucella abortus*YesNo
Brucella canisYesNo
Brucella melitensis*YesNo
Brucella ovisNoYes
Brucella suis*YesNo
Burkholderia mallei (Glanders)YesNo
Cache Valley virusNoYes
Campylobacter fetusNoYes
Campylobacter jejuniNoYes
Caprine arthritis-encephalitis virusNoYes
Carp sprivivirus (Spring viraemia of carp virus)YesNo
Chlamydophila abortusNoYes
Chlamydophila psittaciYesNo
Chronic wasting disease*YesNo
Chrysomya bezziana (Old World screwworm)YesNo
Classical swine fever virus*YesNo
Clostridium botulinum (Botulism)YesNo
Clostridium spp. (other than Clostridium botulinum)NoYes
Coccidia spp. (Coccidiosis)NoYes
Cochliomyia hominivorax (New World screwworm)YesNo
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis (Caseous lymphadenitis, Pigeon fever)NoYes
Coxiella burnetii (Coxiellosis, Q-Fever)YesNo
Cryptococcus spp. (Cryptococcosis)NoYes
Cytoecetes phagocytophila (Tick-borne fever)YesNo
Cyprinid herpesvirus-3 (Koi Herpesvirus)YesNo
Cysticercus bovis/Taenia saginata (Bovine cysticercosis)*YesNo
Duck viral hepatitisYesNo
Eastern equine encephalomyelitis virusYesNo
Echinococcus multilocularisYesNo
Ehrlichia ondiri (Bovine petechial fever)YesNo
Ehrlichia ruminantium (Heartwater)YesNo
Eimeria stiedaeNoYes
Elaphostrongylus cervi (Tissue worm)YesNo
Enterovirus encephalomyelitis virus (Teschen disease)YesNo
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease virusYesNo
Equine coronavirusNoYes
Equid herpesvirus-1YesNo
Equine infectious anemia virus*YesNo
Equine rotavirusNoYes
Equine viral arteritis virusNoYes
Foot and mouth disease virus*YesNo
Fowl adenovirus (inclusion body hepatitis, egg drop syndrome)NoYes
Francisella tularensis (Tularemia)YesNo
Gallid alphaherpesvirus 2 (Marek’s disease)NoYes
Goose parvovirus infection (Derzsy’s disease)YesNo
Hendra virusYesNo
Herpesvirus of cervidaeYesNo
Histomonas meleagridis (Blackhead)NoYes
Histoplasma capsulatum (Histoplasmosis)NoYes
Histoplasma farciminosum (Epizootic lymphangitis)YesNo
Ibaraki disease virusYesNo
Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virusNoYes
Infectious bronchitis virus/avian coronavirusNoYes
Infectious bursal disease virusNoYes
Infectious hypodermal and haematopoietic necrosis virusYesNo
Infectious pancreatic necrosis virusYesNo
Infectious salmon anaemia virusYesNo
Influenza A virusYesNo
Japanese encephalitis virusYesNo
Lactococcus garvieaeNoYes
Lagovirus europaeus GI.2 (Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 1, 1A, and 2)YesNo
Lead toxicosisYesNo
Leishmania spp. (Leishmaniasis)NoYes
Leptospira spp. (Leptospirosis)NoYes
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeriosis)YesNo
Louping ill virusYesNo
Lumpy skin disease virus*YesNo
Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virusNoYes
Maedi-visna virusNoYes
Malignant catarrhal feverNoYes
Mammalian bornavirusYesNo
Mycobacterium aviumNoYes
Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease)NoYes
Mycobacterium bovis (Bovine tuberculosis)*YesNo
Mycoplasma agalactiae (Contagious agalactia)YesNo
Mycoplasma capricolum (Contagious caprine pleuropneumonia)YesNo
Mycoplasma gallisepticum (Avian mycoplasmosis)NoYes
Mycoplasma mycoides (Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia)*YesNo
Myxobolus cerebralis (Whirling disease)YesNo
Nairobi sheep disease virusYesNo
Neorickettsia risticiiNoYes
Neorickettsia spp.NoYes
Nipah virusYesNo
Orf virus (Contagious ecthyma)NoYes
Pasteurella multocida (Fowl cholera)YesNo
Peste des petits ruminants virus*YesNo
Piscine novirhabdovirus (Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus)YesNo
Porcine delta coronavirusNoYes
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virusNoYes
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virusNoYes
Pseudorabies virus (Aujeszky’s disease)*YesNo
Rabies virus*YesNo
Renibacterium salmoninarum (Bacterial kidney disease)NoYes
Rift Valley fever virus*YesNo
Rinderpest virus*YesNo
Salmonella gallinarum (Fowl typhoid)*YesNo
Salmonella pullorum (Pullorum disease)*YesNo
Salmonellae, sub-typedYesNo
Salmonid novirhabdovirus (Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus)YesNo
Senecavirus AYesNo
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2YesNo
Sheep and goat pox virus*YesNo
Streptococcus equi (Strangles)YesNo
Streptococcus iniaeNoYes
Swine vesicular disease virus*YesNo
Taylorella equigenitalis (Contagious equine metritis)*YesNo
Theileria spp. (Theileriosis)YesNo
Toxoplasma gondii (Toxoplasmosis)NoYes
Transmissible gastroenteritis virusNoYes
Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (other than bovine spongiform encephalopathy, chronic wasting disease and scrapie)NoYes
Trichinella spp. (Trichinellosis)YesNo
Tritrichomonas foetus (Trichomoniasis)NoYes
Trypanosoma equiperdum (Dourine)YesNo
Trypanosoma spp. (Trypanosomiasis)YesNo
Variant avian reovirusNoYes
Varroa destructor, miticide-resistant (Varroa mite)YesNo
Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus*YesNo
Verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coliYesNo
Vesicular stomatitis virus*YesNo
Wesselsbron’s virusYesNo
West Nile virusYesNo
Western equine encephalomyelitis virusYesNo
White Sturgeon epivirus (White Sturgeon iridovirus)YesNo
Yersinia enterocolitica (Yersiniosis)NoYes
Yersinia pestis (Plague)YesNo
Yersinia ruckeriNoYes

* These hazards are reportable to your local CFIA District Veterinarian or CFIA's emergency phone number at 1-877-814-2342, by regulation under the federal Health of Animals Act (current as of October 2012). Visit the CFIA website for more information on federally reportable and also federally immediately notifiable diseases.

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