Avian Influenza (HPA1 H5N1)

Algoma Public Health

Avian Influenza (HPA1 H5N1)

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Avian Influenza (AI) is a disease caused by a virus that primarily infects domestic poultry and wild birds such as geese, ducks, and shore birds. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 is a strain known to kill both wild birds and commercial poultry. In March 2022, the virus has been detected in Ontario in wild and commercial poultry.


Can humans get Avian Influenza?


The HPAI H5N1 virus is not currently known to transmit easily from birds to humans. Most human cases of avian flu have been linked to high risk activities such as:

  • caring for sick birds
  • dressing birds that died from the disease
  • consuming duck’s blood
  • handling birds involved in cockfighting




Precautions & Prevention


While the risk of human infection with avian influenza viruses remains low, individuals should avoid handling live or dead wild birds. If contact with wild birds is unavoidable, wear gloves and avoid contact with blood, body fluids and feces. You should then follow any contact by washing your hands with soap and warm water.


The annual influenza vaccine does not protect against avian influenza but it will help prevent you from getting seasonal influenza, which could weaken your immune system or resistance to other infections.


To determine if a region you are travelling to is affected by AI, visit Public Health Agency of Canada’s website.



Who do I call to report if my backyard poultry are sick or dying?


Bird owners are legally responsible to notify authorities of serious bird diseases such as Avian Influenza. Call a veterinarian or your nearestCanadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Animal Health office if you suspect your birds have AI.



What should I do if I find a dead wild bird in my backyard or in a park?


Contact the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) at the online submission tool or contact the CWHC Ontario Communications Coordinator by calling 1-866-673-4781 or e-mail on-nu@cwhc-rcsf.ca. If they determine that the sample is appropriate for testing, they will advise you with more instructions.