Thousands of migrating seabird bodies washed up on the coasts of eastern Canada this week, with early studies indicating that the birds died of avian flu.
Since May 2022, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has identified 13 positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost province.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is undertaking further examinations to determine that the seabird fatalities were caused by avian flu, according to Peter Thomas, the center’s wildlife scientist.
The influenza has killed many herring gulls, Iceland gulls, common ravens, and American crows, according to Thomas.
The avian influenza virus, according to the Canadian Wildlife Service, is infectious and may damage both domestic and wild birds worldwide.
To stop the spread, the Canadian Wildlife Service is collaborating with the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza has also been identified.
According to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the disease is fast spreading on Vancouver Island, afflicting animals such as great horned owls, bald eagles, great blue herons, ducks and geese, and even crows.
“Every day I receive phone calls saying 10 are dead,” Elizabeth Melnick of Elizabeth’s Wildlife Center in British Columbia stated.
“Wildlife centers in the country usually choose to save the dying ones as dead ones are picked up by the city,” she said.
Avian influenza, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, is a respiratory disease that produces significant mortality and poses a severe danger to the poultry industry. It spreads spontaneously among wild aquatic birds all over the globe and may infect domestic poultry as well as other bird and mammal species.
Pet birds may get infected with avian influenza and transfer the illness to people, thus wild birds should not be handled when they are sick or dead, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.