Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza (AI) is a disease caused by a virus that primarily infects domestic poultry and wild birds such as geese, ducks, and shore birds. Each year, there is a “bird flu” season, and some forms of the “bird flu” are worse than others. Wild birds, especially waterfowl, are a natural reservoir for mild strains of AI. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 is a strain known to kill both wild birds and commercial poultry.

The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus has been detected in Ontario in wild birds and commercial poultry. This same strain of the virus has also been found in many other jurisdictions across the world, including in other Canadian provinces and American states. Its spread has been primarily attributed to the migration of infected waterfowl.

As of April 4, 2024, HPAI has been found in goats and dairy cattle in the United States. No cattle or goats in Canada have tested positive for the virus and The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is monitoring the situation closely.

Although the risk to the public remains low, transmission to humans has occurred when people have had close contact with infected birds or heavily contaminated environments. To date, one individual has become infected after having been exposed to infected cattle.

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This item was last modified on April 23, 2024