While the risk of contracting the virus is low, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is still urging caution regarding avian flu.

The health unit says Avian Influenza A has been detected in flocks of chickens in the region and is warning against handling live or dead wild birds. The disease can kill wild and domestic birds, but humans who contract the disease can develop fever, cough, red eyes, or shortness of breath, similar to COVID-19.

Those who are in contact with the birds are asked to wear gloves or use double-sided plastic bags. Handlers should avoid contact with blood, body fluids and feces and wash their hands with warm water and soap afterward. Public Health also emphasizes that properly cooked poultry is not a source of avian flu.

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Meanwhile, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it is an unprecedented year for avian flu or “bird flu” around the world. Officials say the virus has spread rapidly since the first reports of it being found in wild birds. The H5 strain of avian flu is a viral infection that spreads easily and quickly among birds. There is no current treatment and high rates of avian deaths remain. Cases have been found in Canada in provinces including Ontario and Alberta. Farmers are being urged to be vigilant and use strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks.

Those who find a sick or dead wild bird should call the Cooperative Wildlife Health Center of Canada at 1-800-567-2033.

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With files from Wendy Gray