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Local health unit warning of avian flu safety

Our health unit is urging caution around birds as avian flu cases rise across the province.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR) says the current strain of the virus has been mainly seen in migratory birds such as ducks, geese, swans, gulls, and shorebirds.

Officials say to avoid contact with ill or dead animals, keep children and pets away from them, remove bird feeders or other potential gathering sites for animals, and monitor any pet or livestock birds for symptoms of avian flu. If contact is unavoidable, HKPR says to wear gloves, wash hands, dispose of carcasses in a double bag, and disinfect gathering sites regularly.

You can also report dead or sick wild animals to your municipality, and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative online or at 1-800-567-2033.

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“Although there have been no reported cases of avian flu in our region to date, it is important to understand the risks and ways to reduce transmission and protect the health of our pets, livestock and bird populations,” said Dr. Natalie Bocking, HKPR’s Medical Officer of Health. “The avian influenza virus has evolved differently around the world, and as thousands of birds return to our region from different areas, it creates more opportunities for this virus to change and adapt further.”

The warning comes after a pet dog died in Oshawa after chewing on a wild goose. If you come down with flu symptoms within 10 days of handling wild animals or poultry, call your health care provider and inform them of animal contact.

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