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Residents reminded of steps to take to protect themselves, pets and domestic birds from avian influenza

February 12, 2024

*This media release has been posted on behalf of Hastings Prince Edward Public Health*

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is reminding residents of the steps they can take to protect themselves, their pets, and domestic birds from avian influenza after deceased Canadian geese in Kingston, Ontario tested positive for the virus.

Avian Influenza, also known as bird flu, usually spreads among wild bird populations, but can sometimes affect commercial poultry or other animals such as dogs when they come into contact with infected animals.

It’s rare for avian flu to spread to people, with most human cases resulting from close contact with infected poultry. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of humans being infected with the current avian influenza strain (H5N1) in Canada. However, because it is not known if or how animals infected with avian influenza H5N1 can transmit the virus to people, it’s important to ensure that children and household pets do not have contact with wild birds or other potentially sick animals.

All residents are reminded to avoid contact with sick or dead wild or domestic birds.

To reduce the risk from avian flu, HPEPH is advising the public to:

  • Avoid direct contact with wild birds and other wild animals.
    • Observe them only from a distance.
  • Contact your local municipality and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative online or by calling 1-800-567-2033 to report ill or dead birds/animals.
  • If contact with a dead bird or animal is unavoidable, wear gloves, place the bird/animal in a doubled plastic bag and tie it closed. Avoid contact with blood, body fluids and feces. You should then wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching any bird feeders, bird baths or any potentially contaminated areas.
  • Consider removing backyard bird feeders and bird baths.
    • If they can’t be fully removed, place them as far from family pets as possible and clean with a bleach and water solution (one-part bleach to nine-parts water) at least once every two weeks.
  • Keep family pets away from birds and fecal matter. Keep cats indoors and dogs on a leash to limit the potential for an encounter with an infected bird.
  • Do not attempt to rescue birds in distress, especially on any bodies of water.
  • If you become ill with influenza symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat) within 10 days after handling wild birds or other wildlife, see your health care provider. Inform your healthcare provider that you have been in contact with wildlife.
  • As another layer of protection, HPEPH recommends that all residents get their annual flu shot. Although seasonal influenza vaccine does not prevent infection with avian flu viruses, it can reduce the risk of getting sick with human and avian flu viruses at the same time.

Additional information about avian flu is available through the Ministry of Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

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