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Bird flu found in PEC backyard flocks; Public Health advice

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reporting bird flu has been found in three backyard flocks in Prince Edward County, among cases already reported in Markham, Chatham-Kent and Alberta.

The agency reported Thursday the infected premises have been placed under quarantine and investigations are under way while CFIA establishes movement control measures on other farms within the areas.

CFIA states avian influenza is not a significant public health concern for healthy people who are not in regular contact with infected birds but “the cases serve as a strong reminder that avian influenza is spreading across the world and that anyone with farm animals must practice good biosecurity habits to protect poultry and prevent disease.”

Cases have also been reported in recent months in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. The most recent outbreak began last year in Europe and and since spread to Canada and the United States.

The cases are also reported to the World Organization for Animal Health.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health states that while avian influenza can kill both wild and commercial birds, the risk to humans is very low.

“Most cases of human Avian influenza have been traced to handling infected poultry (live or dead) or their droppings,” a media release from HPEPH states. “Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that properly cooked poultry is a source of concern of avian influenza infection for people.”

Public Health recommends people reduce your risk by avoiding handling live or dead wild birds.

“If contact with wild birds is unavoidable, wear gloves or use a doubled plastic bag and avoid contact with blood, body fluids and feces. You should then wash your hands with soap and warm water. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has information on safety principles for small flock owners.

“If you have handled a sick wildlife bird or poultry, monitor for human symptoms of Avian Influenza, which can range from very mild to severe.
• Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches, headache, tiredness
• Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Less common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or seizures

People experiencing any of these symptoms and have been in contact with poultry or wild birds in the last 10 days, should contact their health care provider.

“While human-to-human transmission is rare, symptoms of avian influenza are very similar to symptoms of COVID-19. Individuals experiencing these symptoms who have had contact with poultry/wild birds should distance from others and wear a mask until they have received assessment from a health care provider.”

If you encounter several sick or dead wild birds, call the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1- 800-567-2033 to report and receive guidance. If you must dispose of a dead bird on your property, take necessary precautions, outlined at ontario.ca/page/dead-animals-or-fish-found-your-property.

 

 

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