I wanted to make you aware of an investigation launched by the Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development and Manitoba Agriculture regarding a suspected case of avian influenza in wild birds here in Manitoba.
Cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in a number of Canadian provinces and the United States, including jurisdictions immediately south of Manitoba in North Dakota and Minnesota, along the route for spring migratory birds returning to Manitoba.
Samples from several suspect birds in southwestern Manitoba near Waskada and a single sample collected in the Dauphin area are being tested. Further updates are anticipated in the coming days as confirmatory diagnostic testing is being completed.
The risk of avian influenza to human health is low. There are no known cases of transmission of this strain of the virus from birds to humans in North America.
This strain of avian influenza does not pose a food safety risk. Manitoba poultry and eggs are safe to eat when proper handling and cooking take place. Regular food safety and hygiene precautions should be followed when preparing wild game. Hunters should avoid eating birds that are visibly ill.
Although the risk of transmission of avian influenza to humans is low, people should not touch dead birds or other wildlife with their bare hands. Protective eyewear and masks are recommended as an additional precaution. Hands should be thoroughly washed before and after with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If a dead bird has to be handled, gloves should be worn and the dead bird placed in a plastic bag.
Manitobans are asked to contact the TIP Line (toll-free) at 1-800-782-0076, if they find any of the following:
clusters of six or more dead waterfowl (e.g., ducks, geese) or other water birds;
any number of dead raptors or avian scavengers (e.g., ravens, crows, gulls); and
large groups of dead birds, such as more than 20 of any species.
The public’s co-operation is appreciated to help monitor this developing situation.
Manitoba Agriculture advises small poultry-flock owners to take precautions. Small flocks are considered at high risk for HPAI infection as they often have access to outdoor pens or free range. This means there is a high probability of contact with wild birds that may be contaminated with the HPAI virus. Small flock owners are encouraged to confine their birds indoors, if at all possible, during this high-risk period of wild bird migration.
Manitoba’s commercial poultry farmers are advised to continue to monitoring information provided through their sector organizations and the Office of the Chief Veterinarian.
For more information or help with animal health-related concerns, producers can contact the Office of the Chief Veterinarian or call 204-945-7663 in Winnipeg.
Additional information is available at: www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-health/update-avian-influenza-in-north-america.html.