NL Gazette

Avian flu found in birds near St. John’s, Environment Canada declares

Nfld and Labrador

Key takeaways: 

  • Infected birds could have arrived from Europe, MUN biology prof states.
  • St. John’s citizens are requested not to feed or touch wild birds near the city after the finding of ‘bird flu.’ 

Avian Flu detected in Birds near the St. John’s: 

Environment Canada states a favourably pathogenic avian influenza first recognised on a farm on the Avalon Peninsula has been discovered in birds near the St. John’s area.

In a statement from the City of St. John’s on Friday, officials stated Environment Canada had verified that influenza, known as H5N1 and often called bird flu, has been seen in wild birds in places like Bowring Park, Quidi Vidi Lake and other places frequented by flocks of birds.

“Like our human flu, it has variants that we direct to as highly pathogenic, meaning that they induce illness and death in birds that get infected with them,” stated Ian Jones, a biology professor at Memorial University. Source – cbc.ca

The city has requested citizens not to feed, touch or control wild birds, including ducks, pigeons and gulls.

Read more: Quebec has not launched a study on the curfew.

Avian Flu detected in birds near St. John’s

Cases of H5N1 were first recognised on the island about mid-December on an exhibit farm on the island, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and a statement from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Jones stated the flu spreads inherently in birds, with more increased case numbers in Europe signalling a more elevated threat for North American poultry flocks this year. 

The infection is often found in birds such as chickens, turkeys, quails, and guinea fowl, as well as pet and wild birds. Jones doubts the flu could have come from Europe in current months, as several species of geese not usually seen in North America have been seen in the region following an October windstorm.

“It was a significant system filling almost the entire North Atlantic, producing very strong winds from northern Europe straight across and then down to Newfoundland, including the Avalon Peninsula. Migrating waterfowl, particularly geese from Europe, were caught up in this,” he stated. Source – cbc.ca

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