Avian influenza spreading in Ontario

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / monticello.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit confirms it is responding to a positive test for avian influenza.

In a release, the health unit says it is supporting the Chief and Council of the Chippewas of the Nawash Unceded First Nation in conducting an investigation into a poultry flock in Neyaashiinigmiing, though a more exact location was not provided.

Also known as H5N1, the avian flu is a contagious viral infection that can affect several species of birds.

Tests of the poultry flock that tested positive were conducted late last week.

The same strain has been found in several jurisdictions around the world, including other Canadian provinces, and its spread is being attributed to the migration of infected waterfowl.

The Community Health Centre at Neyaashiinigmiing is currently overseeing contact tracing, which is primarily focused on anyone exposed to the infected birds in the three weeks prior to the illness.

GBHU says the risk to the public of catching H5N1 from domestic poultry or products is “very low”, and there is no need to change food consumption habits or travel plans.

The updated Canadian Food Inspection list now has 10 areas of the province, stretching through southwestern Ontario and parts of central Ontario, that have been confirmed to have flocks affected by avian influenza.

It’s also spreading to more provinces.

The CFIA says bird flu has been confirmed in Alberta poultry flocks. And it is the fifth province that the virus has been found in.

Beyond Ontario, it has also been detected in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and BC.