Avian flu is also a threat to pets.
With headlines focusing on the devastating impact of avian influenza or bird flu on Saskatchewan’s poultry industry, there is another group that could potentially be affected – pet owners.
The Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Center has already taken precautions.
To find out the dos and don’ts of getting avian or bird flu, we contacted the Ministry of Agriculture to ask ten questions.
1. What exactly is avian flu and why should people be concerned about it?
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a federally reportable disease.
The federal government responds to cases of domestic poultry by quarantine, destruction of infected birds and restrictions on movement into and out of affected farms, as well as up to 10 km around the farm.
Current circulating strains are very lethal to birds and can result in the death of an entire flock within a few days.
Avian influenza can infect people, especially those in close contact with infected birds.
Fortunately, human infections are relatively rare; Unfortunately, the mortality rate of human infection is high.
2. What possible effects can avian flu have on pets, such as but not limited to parrots, budgies and canaries?
Pet bird species can also be susceptible to avian influenza virus. If pet birds are infected, they are more likely to die from the disease.
Questions concerning the federal response in birds should be directed to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
3. What precautions can bird owners take to protect their pets from avian flu?
Keep birds indoors and do not allow them to come into contact with wild birds, or the environment or things that wild birds come into contact with.
Owners should have dedicated outdoor shoes that do not come into contact with anything pet birds may come into contact with.
To reduce the risk of disease transmission between birds, it is also recommended to prohibit the arrival of birds from various sources, such as at shows or sales, at this time.
Some provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Ontario, have implemented an Animal Health Control Area Order prohibiting birds from traveling and participating in such events.
4. Is there any vaccination for birds to prevent avian flu?
There are no avian influenza virus vaccines approved for use in Canada.
5. Is there any treatment available if a person’s pet gets avian flu?
There is no treatment available for any bird infected with avian influenza.
All birds confirmed to have avian influenza will be ordered to be euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.
6. They say limit exposure to other pets and visitors to help prevent the spread of avian flu. Can you explain why?
The virus is shed in bird manure and secretions, which contaminate the environment.
People and pets passing through this contaminated environment can carry the virus on their shoes and feet and track it in areas where birds may be exposed to it.
We cannot prevent the spread of disease in wild birds, but limiting contact with pets, people, or other things that may be contaminated with the virus is one of the main things we can do to protect domestic birds.
7. This may be controversial to ask but if a person has a pet bird they often set up feeders outside for wild birds, is this something that should be discouraged?
People with domesticated birds should make sure they are not coming into contact with wild birds, or things contaminated with wild bird feces.
It is wise for people with domesticated birds not to consume wild bird feeders or otherwise encourage wild birds to congregate.
It is recommended that the use of bird feeders be generally stopped to prevent the gathering of wild birds and to reduce the risk of disease transmission among different bird populations.
8. What should a person do if he suspects or knows that his bird has avian flu? Are there any reporting obligations for pet owners?
Under the federal Animal Health Act, bird owners are obliged by law to notify the responsible authority of any suspicions for avian influenza.
Bird owners and poultry producers should first call their private veterinarians if they suspect their birds may have avian influenza.
If the vet believes there is a risk of avian influenza, they should call the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
9. One of the preventive measures to prevent the spread or contraction of avian flu is cleaning, can you tell me what any pet owners use to help protect their pets from the virus that causes avian flu? Can do?
If you’re taking the above steps to keep your pet birds indoors, and making sure you’re not tracking the virus from outside, there’s no reason to do any special cleaning.
If you want to make sure the things your birds come into contact with are clean and disinfected, ordinary household bleach works well when mixed with water using 1 part household bleach and 9 parts water.
10. Do you have anything to add?
Dealing with any animal disease can be very stressful and heartbreaking for owners.
We encourage poultry owners and producers in Saskatchewan to reach out to the provincial farm stress line for support; This provincial line can be contacted 24 hours a day at 1-800-667-4442.