Avian Influenza

Avian Flu

Be on the alert for avian influenza

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) cases have been detected among poultry at B.C. farms. Cases increase as wild bird populations migrate and spread viral contamination.

The risk of HPAI transmission to humans remains low, but in rare cases humans have contracted the illness after contact with infected poultry or their environment. To date, human-to-human transmission of HPAI has not been observed. 

Additionally, HPAI outbreaks represent a risk to food security when poultry must be culled. Co-infection with seasonal influenza and avian influenza also creates the chance for new, more infectious viruses to develop. 

Key steps:

  1. Farmers and backyard chicken keepers should know the signs of HPAI and keep their birds isolated from wild birds or other bird owners. Learn more about how to protect your flock.
  2. Those in contact with poultry should get the updated seasonal influenza vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine will not prevent avian influenza, but it can limit the chance of co-infection with both human and avian influenza viruses. Co-infection creates the risk of developing new and more dangerous influenza viruses.
  3. Use PPE to deal with dead or infected birds, and wash your hands after removing PPE. Protect yourself against infection and prevent the virus from spreading.
  4. Report dead or sick domestic birds to your nearest CFIA office:
  5. Hunters and foragers can take simple precautions when harvesting wild game birds or their eggs this fall. Note that freezing alone does not kill the virus.
  6. Report dead wild birds to the Wild Bird Mortality Line: 1-866-431-BIRD (2473).
  7. If you see a wild mammal (fox, skunk or mink) acting erratically or showing signs of neurological illness (e.g., seizures, tremors, circling, excess salivation, inability to walk), keep your distance and contact B.C. Wildlife Health Program at 250-751-7246. They may have contracted HPAI by scavenging dead wild birds.
  8. Never handle ill or dead animals that died of unknown causes without proper personal protective equipment (PPE); supervise and remind children and young people about this guidance.

For more information, please visit BCCDC – including its How Can I Protect Myself resource – and the Government of British Columbia.

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