Niagara Region Public Health is investigating a confirmed report of H5N1 avian influenza in a mixed flock of birds including chicken, geese and ducks.
Niagara Region Public Health is working closely with the Ontario Ministry of Health, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to monitor and respond to the situation.
“Only those working on the farm with the birds are at any risk, and Public Health has followed up with each of them individually,” said Dr. Joanne Kearon, Resident Physician working with Niagara Region Public Health. “We are working with our provincial and federal partners to contain the infection so that it doesn’t spread to any other birds, and in turn doesn’t pose a risk to anyone else.”
Avian influenza is a viral disease that affects mostly domestic poultry and wild birds such as geese, ducks, and shore birds. Spread of the virus from animals to humans is uncommon, but has been observed. The exact mode of transmission from birds to people is not known, however, most human cases of avian influenza have been traced to direct contact with live or dead infected poultry or their droppings.
While avian influenza remains rare in Ontario, owners of birds with exposure to the outdoors should practice some routine precautions such as rigorous hand washing and wearing of personal protective equipment as appropriate. Safety principles for those with backyard chickens or other domestic birds are available from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Please consult your local municipality about details of keeping backyard poultry and associated bylaws.
Residents should avoid handling wild birds, including those that are sick, injured or dead. Report any sick or dead birds to the Ontario Regional Centre of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at (866) 673-4781.For more information on avian influenza and the status of ongoing avian influenza response by province visit the Government of Canada’s website.