Halton Region, like many other jurisdictions across Canada, is receiving reports of dead birds with suspected avian influenza (H5N1), also known as avian or bird flu. Avian influenza usually spreads among wild bird populations but can sometimes affect commercial poultry or other animals. Very rarely, avian influenza may spread to people; most human cases have occurred after close contact with infected poultry.
“The risk of avian flu spreading to humans is very low. Most human cases of avian flu have been traced to unprotected contact, such as not wearing gloves, protective wear, face masks, respirators or eye protection, with infected poultry or their droppings,” said Dr. Joanna Oda, Halton Region’s Associate Medical Officer of Health. “I encourage residents to follow recommended guidance to limit the spread of avian flu in Halton.”
To further reduce the risk from avian influenza, Halton Region Public Health is providing the following reminders:
- Avoid direct contact with wild birds and other wild animals. Observe them only from a distance, if possible.
- Contact your local municipality and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (external link) to report ill or dead birds/animals.
- If contact with a dead bird or animal is unavoidable, wear gloves, place the bird/animal in a doubled plastic bag and tie it closed. Avoid contact with blood, body fluids and feces. You should then wash your hands with soap and warm water.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching any bird feeders, bird baths or any potentially contaminated areas.
- Consider removing backyard bird feeders and bird baths. If they cannot be fully removed, place them as far away from family pets as possible and clean with a bleach and water solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) at least once every two weeks.
- Keep family pets away from birds and fecal matter. Keep cats indoors and dogs on a leash to limit the potential for an encounter with an infected bird.
- Do not attempt to rescue birds in distress, especially on any bodies of water.
- If you become ill with influenza symptoms (external link) (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat) within 10 days after handling wild birds or other wildlife, see your health care provider. Inform your health care provider that you have been in contact with wildlife.
Additional information about avian flu is available through the Ministry of Health (external link), the Public Health Agency of Canada (external link), the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (external link) and Halton Region Public Health.
The Regional Municipality of Halton serves more than 624,000 residents in the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville. Halton Region is committed to meeting the needs of its residents through the delivery of cost-effective, quality programs and services, including water and wastewater; Regional roads and planning; paramedic services; waste management; public health; social assistance; children’s and seniors’ services; housing services; heritage programs; emergency management and economic development. For more information, call 311 or visit Halton Region’s website at halton.ca.