Bird flu: British Columbia sees infections in more flocks, wild birds


The highly pathogenic strain of bird flu that put the BC poultry industry on alert has now been detected in two other flocks of domestic birds in the province, this time in Richmond and Kelowna.

The last two sites were identified on May 3, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and both are small flocks. The infected premises are now under quarantine.

A total of four small flocks of domestic birds and one commercial poultry operation have tested positive in the province.

The virus has also appeared in several wild birds, according to a rehabilitation center in Metro Vancouver.

Executive director Rob Hope of Delta’s Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society said he recently saw about four positive cases, along with six considered suspicious. They saw their first positive case in March.

Most of the birds affected were eagles, and the few that have survived so far are being kept in a separate quarantine from other birds that live in the facility. Hope said there had also been a previous case of H5N1 in a Cooper’s falcon and a suspected case in a peregrine falcon.

“We mainly get them from the local area here, Delta, Vancouver. We had a positive from Bowen Island,” he said. “Unfortunately, the death rate is quite high, and it was within 24 hours.”

The company has also set up an exam tent outside, with a disinfectant foot wash for those who enter. When a suspected case arrives, swabs are collected and sent for testing. Dead birds are stored in a freezer and will also be sent for further analysis.

Hope said that in a bird of prey, symptoms of the virus can manifest as neurological signs such as “stargazing”, where the bird looks up, as well as dull, swollen eyes and a face. swollen.

“If anyone comes across a bird of prey that they think might (have) bird flu, please give us a call,” Hope said, adding that he always wants to hear from people who find injured birds.

“We are ready to treat those who test positive, but there will be many who do not test positive, but are injured or orphaned and also need our help.”

Warning: The following video shows an eagle suffering from bird flu and may disturb some viewers.

Quarantined birds that have survived so far will be kept isolated for 30 days and then retested.

“There’s a chance (of survival), but the long-term effects are another thing we’re not sure about,” Hope said. “If they are negative, we can continue rehabilitation.”

It is also feared that the virus could be transmitted from adult birds to nestlings in the nest through the consumption of infected waterfowl.

Although the virus is not considered to pose a significant risk to people in general, volunteers caring for birds are also taking extra precautions.

“In the past three days I’ve spent $1,500 on PPE (personal protective equipment), from gowns to fungicides, viricides,” Hope said. “Currently, we are looking for donations of PPE, be it dresses, masks, slippers, as well as cash. It’s not going away anytime soon, and we’re ready for the long haul.

People can also report any finds of dead wild birds to the Wild Bird Network at 1-866-431-BIRD.

The first flock of domestic birds in British Columbia with confirmed positive cases was a commercial poultry operation in the North Okanagan on April 13. On April 25, the virus was detected in a small flock of birds other than poultry in Kelowna, and then two days later in a small flock of poultry in the Kootenay region.


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