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HKPR stresses taking precautions around wildlife to avoid the avian flu

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES/DURHAM: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) has issued a statement regarding the avian flu.

“The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR DHU) is urging the public to use caution around wild birds and poultry, as cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), also known as ‘avian flu’, increase with spring migration happening across the province. On April 4th, 2023, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed that a domestic dog in Oshawa, Ontario, tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). According to the release, the dog was found to have been infected with avian influenza after chewing on a wild goose, and died after developing clinical signs,” read a press release from HKPR.

The local health unit described avian influenza as “a contagious viral infection [which] can affect all species of birds, but can, sometimes also, infect mammals.” Birds, at risk of avian influenza, include ducks, geese, swans, gulls and shorebirds.

So far, there are no reported cases of humans being infected with this flu strain in Canada.

“Although there have been no reported cases of avian flu in our region to-date, it is important to understand the risks and ways to reduce transmission and protect the health of our pets, livestock and bird populations,” read a statement from, the local medical officer of health, Dr. Natalie Bocking. “The avian influenza virus has evolved differently around the world, and as thousands of birds return to our region from different areas, it creates more opportunities for this virus to change and adapt further.”

Last month, the Durham Region Health Department posted they were “monitoring recent reports of dead birds, [which had] been found in the Uxbridge area, for potential avian influenza.”

“Residents who find dead birds on their private property are advised to bury or double bag birds and dispose of all carcasses in the garbage. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends wearing gloves, when handling wild bird carcasses, and avoiding contact with blood, body fluids and feces. Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer. Dead birds, found on municipal property, can be reported to the local municipality for pick-up,” read a press release from the Durham Region Health Department.

HKPR recommends “if you become ill with influenza symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat) within ten days after handling wild birds or other wildlife, see your health care provider and inform your healthcare provider you have been in contact with wildlife.”

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