Nunavut Health Department warns avian flu might soon reach Nunavut

Residents warned to be aware of possible signs of infection; so far no cases confirmed in territory

Nunavut’s Health Department is advising residents to be aware of signs of avian flu infection among birds. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

With cases of avian influenza detected in all 10 provinces, Yukon and parts of the United States, Nunavut residents are warned to be on the lookout for possibly infected birds.

A news release from Nunavut’s Department of Health says bird flu can be highly contagious among domestic and wild birds.

“With the northward spring bird migration, increasing numbers of avian influenza detections in birds may be seen across Canada,” says Health Department spokesperson Chris Puglia, in the release.

The risk of human infection is generally low.

However, with people taking part in spring wild bird and egg harvesting they should be aware of precautions that can prevent its spread, states the release.

An infected bird night show signs including lack of co-ordination, swelling around the head, neck and eyes, diarrhea, or sudden death.

Multiple bird deaths in a single location is also a warning sign of avian influenza.

There is no evidence that avian flu can be spread to humans who eat fully cooked game birds or eggs. Generally when human cases are detected, it’s caused by close, prolonged contact with infected live or dead poultry or environments that have been contaminated.

A health department spokesperson confirmed Monday no avian influenza cases have been reported this year in Nunavut.

To avoid infection, people are advised not to touch sick birds or feed wild birds by hand; while handling birds, wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterward; and be sure birds or eggs are cooked well before they’re eaten.

Anyone who sees birds exhibiting any of the symptoms of avian influenza should report it to the local conservation office, states the release.

As well, anyone who feels sick after handling a bird should contact the local health centre.

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