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Bird owners warned of avian influenza virus in County

April 8, 2022

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in a backyard flock in Prince Edward County.

Avian influenza (AI), commonly known as “bird flu,” is a contagious viral infection that can affect several species of food producing birds as well as pet birds and wild birds. AI viruses can be classified into 2 categories: low pathogenicity (LPAI) and high pathogenicity (HPAI) viruses, based on the severity of the illness caused in birds.

Owners of backyard flocks no matter what the size or species as well as commercial poultry producers should exercise extreme caution and invoke heightened biosecurity measures such as:

  • Keep poultry away from areas frequented by wild birds and wild bird droppings.
  • Maintain strict control over access to poultry houses and your premises.
  • Make sure equipment is cleaned and disinfected before taking it into poultry houses.
  • Do not keep bird feeders or create duck ponds close to poultry houses.
  • Maintain the highest sanitation standards.
  • Change footwear and prevent wearing contaminated clothing when entering the poultry house.

In addition to regular biosecurity measures, the following heightened biosecurity standards should now be applied:

  • Control access to your farm site by communicating the situation to all essential visitors, including service providers, input suppliers and feed providers.
  • Keep mortalities in secure, covered containers until they are moved to the disposal area or transported off-farm.
  • Place waste entering the public collection system in a sealed, waterproof bag with the exterior disinfected.
  • If possible, keep all waste on-farm until the situation is resolved.

Backyard hen/small flock owners are reminded that the Backyard Hen By-Law requires owners to register all hens with the Chicken Farmers of Ontario Small Flock Policy through their Family Food Program. Registering will ensure that small flock growers receive disease notices and guidance to protect their flock. The Family Food Program website also offers bird health and disease management guidance.

Avian influenza viruses, such as the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, can, on rare occasions, cause disease in humans. Transmission to humans has occurred when people have had close contact with infected birds or heavily contaminated environments.

Due to the potential for human infection, it is recommended that people working with poultry suspected of being infected with avian influenza, or in contact with such poultry, wear protective clothing. This includes, face masks, goggles, gloves and boots.

Visit the CFIA website to learn more about avian influenza.

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