SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND – The community is being warned to avoid handling live or dead birds after a case of ‘bird flu’ was recently confirmed in Norfolk.
Health and Social Services of Haldimand and Norfolk County posted an alert on April 20, after finding infected poultry on a commercial poultry site. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed H5N1 Avian influenza at the poultry site in Norfolk County. A community alert was posted today (May 3).
H541 Avian Influenza (also known as ‘bird flu’) is categorized as a type A influenza virus. It is considered highly contagious among the bird population. The virus is transmittable to both domesticated and wild birds including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, raptor, gulls, terns, shorebirds, quail, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, among many birds.
The virus can quickly spread within the bird population.
Avian influenza is regarded as being a very low human health risk, except for people who are in close contact with infected birds.
Transmission to humans is not common, especially with the current strain reported in Norfolk County. To date, no human cases of avian influenza have been detected in the country. However, the more the virus spreads, this poses an increased risk of it mixing with a human strain to form more serious and transmissible influenza.
It is important to note that cases of the H541 Avian Influenza have not been detected in humans. There is no evidence currently that the virus can be transmitted to humans when consuming fully cooked game birds or eggs (using proper handling techniques, cooking times, and temperatures).
Community members are being encouraged to practice these safety precautions to help minimize risks of exposure to the virus, especially when hunting and handling wild birds or their eggs:
Wash your hands often
Wear protective clothing
If handling sick or dead wild birds or other wildlife is unavoidable, wear protective clothing such as boots and gloves or use a doubled plastic bag Avoid contact with blood, body fluids and feces.
Clean all work surfaces thoroughly and hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer.
Ensure that birds and eggs are fully cooked (using proper handling techniques, cooking times, and temperatures) before consuming If you become ill after handling wild birds or eggs, seek medical attention Do not feed pets or other animals any raw meat or eggs from birds Do not allow your pets to play with wild birds.
Try to keep your pets and other animals indoors If going outdoors with pets, try to keep them on a leash
Six Nations and Haldimand are reminding everyone to avoid handling live or dead wild birds and take precautions when caring for sick animals. Community members can call the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-800-567-2033 to report the finding of sick or dead wild birds or visit CWHC-RCSF: Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative‘s website.
Anyone who keeps poultry or other domestic birds on their private property is encouraged to review OMAFRA’s recommendations for small flock owners and how to prevent and detect disease in small flocks and pet birds or call the CFIA at 226-217-8022.