Health Unit warns of bird flu cases in Eastern Ontario

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By Nick Seebruch
Health Unit warns of bird flu cases in Eastern Ontario
Stock photo of chickens.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is reporting that cases of avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 (bird flu) has been detected in Eastern Ontario.

The EOHU did not respond to inquiries from Seaway News at time of writing if the cases were detected in birds, humans, how many cases there were or where they were first detected.

“At the moment, the risk of transmission to humans is low, as the current strain of the virus has been listed as lower than normal concern for spread to humans,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health. “The EOHU is working closely with provincial and federal partners, including the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to monitor the situation.”

Bird flu can infect both domestic birds like ducks and chickens, and wild birds like pheasants and geese. Most historical cases of human infections of bird flu are from individuals who have handled live or dead infected birds or their droppings.

The health unit is reminding the public to be cautious when handling poultry products such as meat or eggs and encourage frequent hand washing to avoid contamination as well as fully cooking any poultry products.

The symptoms of H5N1 in humans can range from very mild to severe. The most common symptoms are the following:

  • Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle and/or body aches, headaches, fatigue or tiredness
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Less common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or seizures. Diarrhea is more common when infected with avian influenza than human influenza virus.

Anyone who has been in recent contact with birds and are experiencing any of the above symptoms should immediately consult with their doctor or call Ontario Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.

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