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Avian Influenza Cases on the Rise as Wild Bird Migrations Begin
There has been an increase in Avian Influenza Cases as summer turns to fall in Alberta. After a lull in the number of cases in June and July, cases are starting to occur again along with the fall wild bird migratory season. As a result, the risk level to commercial poultry flocks appears to be rising. There is an extremely low risk to human health and no risk to food safety. While some strains have the potential to infect humans, previous cases of avian influenza in people have involved close contact with infected birds or heavily contaminated environments.
There is no effective vaccine or cure for avian influenza, which can be spread to farmed flocks during wild bird migratory season. Biosecurity is essential for protecting your flocks and preventing the disease’s spread.
Moving Forward with Recent History on Avian Influenza
Back in April 2022, the ABVMA published important details from Alberta Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development Nate Horner’s Statement on Avian Influenza in Alberta. Minister Horner mentioned, “HPAI is a reportable disease, so if you suspect or confirm a case in your flock, you are required to report it to the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) or the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian… We are in regular contact with the CFIA, industry, producers and other stakeholders to ensure a timely, coordinated and effective response.”
Important Tips to Prevent the Spread of Avian Influenza for Those who Raise Poultry
In the Alberta Animal Health Source Article, the ABVMA provided some valuable tips that poultry producers, those who have small flocks of poultry as well as backyard poultry owners can use to prevent the spread of avian influenza in their flock(s):
- Prevent contact with wild birds and other animals.
- Frequently clean coops, water sources, your clothing, and boots.
- Spot the signs of avian influenza and report to your veterinarian or CFIA.
- Limit exposure to visitors.
- Keep domestic birds, their water and food away from wild birds.
Important Information for Hunters and Those Living Close to Alberta Wetlands
If you hunt or live close to wetlands and marshes in Alberta, you can help curb the spread of Avian Influenza by:
- Taking down wild bird feeders until hunting season is over
- Cleaning areas where you know wild birds have frequented
If you spot a sick or dead wild bird, please call 310-0000 or your local Fish and Wildlife Office.
Being Mindful of Wetlands and Helping with Conservation Efforts
Healthy wildlife and waterfowl also mean having a healthy ecosystem in Alberta. The Government of Alberta features important information about Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils and the progress being made in terms of conservation of our watershed in the province. Another valuable source of information comes from Duck’s Unlimited Canada website where you can find more information about protecting our wetlands. In a 2021 report on protecting Alberta’s wetlands, it was reported that private landowners are key to restoring and preserving the province’s natural sources of water. As of February 2021, there are more than 30 wetland restoration projects on the go in Alberta, restoring more than 900 acres. Research that examined Ducks Unlimited Canada’s conservation and restoration efforts revealed that for every dollar invested in wetlands and natural habitats, society receives $22 in economic benefits. This includes nature-based recreation, tourism, and employment.
If you would like more information about Avian Influenza, we encourage you to speak to your veterinary team.
The Government of Alberta has also issued new information about the rise in Avian Influenza this Fall.
For more details about the preservation of wetlands, please visit any of the information sources listed below including the Government of Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy.