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Media Release: Residents reminded to avoid handling wild birds as Avian Flu is identified in region

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/April 11, 2022

Avian Influenza A (H5N1) has been identified in a flock of chickens in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. Avian Influenza, often referred to as “bird flu”, is a viral disease that affects mostly domestic poultry and wild birds such as geese, ducks, and shore birds. Wild birds are especially likely to carry and transmit the virus.

Can avian flu infect humans?

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.  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:

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Media Contacts:

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist
mhyland@hpeph.cav

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist
etubbs@hpeph.ca  

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. HPEPH is situated and provides services on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee people. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

Symptoms or exposure? Visit www.ontario.ca/exposed for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/public-health-measures.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.

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