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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

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Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in Alberta, as well as many other provinces across Canada.

“Avian Influenza: Avian influenza is a contagious type A influenza virus that affects domestic and wild birds. Type A influenza viruses are present in a wide variety of birds and mammals. Type A influenza viruses are classified based on the severity of disease (pathogenicity) they cause to infected chickens and are categorized as being either low pathogenicity (LPAI; mild symptoms) or high pathogenicity (HPAI; severe symptoms and death). It is important to note that wild birds may be infected with HPAI and remain asymptomatic or they may also experience symptoms or death.” (Canadian Wildlife Service, 2022).

HPAI can infect all avian species though there seems to be higher rates in waterfowl, corvid, and raptor species (especially the scavengers that would feed on waterfowl).

At AIWC we have been monitoring the situation closely. We have admission and quarantine protocols in place to help screen for HPAI, but on-site testing of birds is not available to us or any other wildlife rehabilitation centre at this time.

Migration season is in full swing and we have started to receive calls about possibly infected birds. The symptoms of HPAI can include but is not limited to:

  • Swollen eyes
  • Nasal and eye discharge
  • Muscle tremors/jerky movements
  • Drooping wings/depressed mentation
  • Ataxia – falling over, off balance

Mortality is high for animals infected with HPAI; it can be as high as 90%. There is no vaccine or treatment for HPAI. We have received animals that are suspected to have the virus and they were compassionately and humanely euthanized and sent for testing. We are awaiting results.

For more information on HPAI, you can visit: https://www.alberta.ca/avian-influenza-in-wild-birds.aspx

How can you help?

  • Give us a call at 403-946-2361 if you have questions or come across wildlife in need. In addition, you can call the provincial reporting hotline line at 310-0000.
  • Donate (https://www.aiwc.ca/support-us/) to help keep our current patients and any new admissions safe. We have activated our HPAI protocol and as such are going through huge amounts of cleaning products and PPE to keep everyone safe. These costs add up and every little helps.
  • If you have poultry or other pet birds, take extra precautions to keep them safe. More info can be found from Government of Canada here: https://inspection.canada.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/biosecurity/standards-and-principles/avian-biosecurity/protecting-your-flock-from-influenza/eng/1461799560842/1461801401264
  • If you frequent areas with waterfowl, ensure you clean your footwear before traveling to another location. Disinfect footwear with a diluted bleach solution.
  • Take down bird feeders and bird baths to help decrease the spread of HPAI. Songbirds can become infected too and while there is still much to learn about this virus, we need to do all we can to help prevent transmission.

Thank you for your continued support. We will keep you updated as the situation develops.

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