For the first time since 2007, highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, has been found in Saskatchewan.
The news comes after samples from a snow goose found near Elrose were confirmed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to have HPAI. This follows the detection of HPAI in poultry and wild birds in the United States and other provinces.
With the news, the provincial Ministry of Agriculture is reminding poultry producers to follow biosecurity protocols to help keep their flocks free of disease. This includes measures such as keeping wild birds away from poultry and their food and water, limiting visitors and monitoring bird health. Producers who have concerns about the health of their flocks should contact their veterinarian immediately, and if HPAI is suspected they should also contact the CFIA.
Most strains of avian flu don’t cause obvious signs of illness in wild birds. This particular strain, however, is said to have resulted in the deaths of some wild birds, including snow geese, Canada geese and raptors.
There is a low risk of transmission of HPAI to humans, however, people are being reminded to not touch dead birds or other wildlife with their bare hands. Protective eyewear and masks are recommended, and hands should be thoroughly washed before and after with soap and water. Birds should be placed into a plastic bag before submission for testing.
The Ministry of Agriculture explained this strain of HPAI doesn’t pose a food safety risk. Food safety and hygiene precautions should be followed when preparing wild game, and hunters should avoid eating birds that are visibly ill.