PWRC voices concern that avian flu could reach Manitoba

Despite the province reporting zero cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza in Manitoba, the number of cases popping up throughout Canada has local wildlife organizations concerned.

Read more: ‘Be extremely vigilant’ — Farmers, feds worried about growing outbreaks of bird flu

Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (PWRC) president Lisa Tretiak says the main worry is wild birds passing the virus to poultry.

“Any farms that have any ponds right beside their barns, those farms should be quite concerned and wanting to make sure their biosecurity is up to par,” she says. “What we’re seeing is that it’s the waterfowl that are bringing it into Manitoba and bringing it across eastern North America, and so we’re watching out for them.”

Read more: 4th southern Ontario poultry farm quarantined after bird flu confirmed

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Tretiak cautions Manitobans against helping any injured animals, especially those that can scratch or puncture skin. When handling an animal like a songbird, she recommends wearing gloves.

“Rubber gloves would be the best that you can disinfect after and place it in a cardboard box,” she says.

Read more: Toronto Zoo closes aviaries after bird flu detected in southern Ontario

“We do want to eliminate any possible contamination, and we don’t want anyone to become hurt by handling these animals.”

For those with birdfeeders, Tretiak isn’t recommending those be taken down just yet.

Read more: Wildlife centre in N.S. plans to build quarantine space to fight spread of avian flu

“If (the virus) does come into Manitoba, it might be something that you should consider taking down and disinfecting,” she says.

Tretiak highly discourages feeding birds from the hand.

Read more: Avian Flu detected in geese on hobby farm outside Halifax, owner ‘devastated’

“There are some birds like chickadees and some of the nuthatches that would like to land on your hand when you’re feeding them. Please do not do that this summer. We want to prevent that from spreading around.”

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