Avian flu found in Prince Edward County, other parts of Ontario

(Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

Those with back yard or barn-raised poultry in Prince Edward County are instructed by Hastings Prince Edward Public Health to be observant of signs of Avian Influenza A (H5N1)

The “bird flu” has been identified in flock of chickens in the Quinte area. A viral disease that affects mostly domestic poultry as well as wild birds such as geese, ducks, and shore birds, the disease can kill both wild and commercial birds but remains a relatively low health risk to humans. Wild birds are especially likely to carry and transmit the virus.

According to Public Health, most cases of human Avian influenza have been traced to handling infected poultry (live or dead) or their droppings.

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that properly cooked poultry is a source of concern of avian influenza infection for people.

To reduce your risk, avoid 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

What should I do if I experience symptoms?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have been in contact with poultry or wild birds in the last 10 days, please contact your 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.

What should I do if I find sick or dead wild birds?

If you encounter several sick or dead wild birds, please call 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.

For more information, review: