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The carcasses of thousands of migratory seabirds washed ashore in eastern Canada this week, and preliminary data showed the birds died from Bird flu.
Since May 2022, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed 13 positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is conducting additional investigations to confirm that seabird deaths are related to bird flu, said Peter Thomas, a wildlife center biologist.
Dead herring gulls, Icelandic gulls, common and American crows are among the most stricken with the fluThomas added.
According to the Canadian Wildlife Service, the avian influenza virus is contagious and can infect domestic and wild birds worldwide.
The Canadian Wildlife Service is working closely with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Canadian Wildlife Conservation Cooperative to contain the spread.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is also spreading rapidly on Vancouver Island, according to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, infecting birds such as great horned owls, bald eaglesgreat blue herons, ducks and geese, and even crows.
“Every day they call me and they say 10 people are dead,” said Elizabeth Melnick of the Elizabeth Wildlife Center in British Columbia.
“Wildlife centers in the country generally choose to rescue the dying as the city takes the dead,” she said.
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, avian influenza is a respiratory pathogen that causes a high mortality rate and poses a serious threat to the poultry industry. It naturally spreads among wild waterfowl around the world and can infect poultry and other bird and animal species.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, poultry can contract avian flu and transmit the disease to humans, so wild birds should not be handled when they are sick or dead.