Newfoundland biologist says bird flu in St. John’s is ‘of great concern’ for birds, not humans

ST. JOHN’S, NL – A biologist from Newfoundland and Labrador says the discovery of highly pathogenic avian influenza in birds in St. John’s is “of great concern” to bird populations, but probably not to humans.

Memorial University professor Andrew Lang said in an interview on Friday that the flu could be devastating to North American wild bird populations if it manages to spread beyond the island of Earth. -New.

The city of St. John’s said in a statement Friday that the flu was found in local wild birds and that authorities have asked residents not to feed, handle or touch any birds, including gulls, ducks. and pigeons.

Environment Canada wildlife scientist Alan Hanson said in an interview on Friday that the flu was found in a black-backed gull that was found in a pond in St. John’s on November 26.

The news comes just days after an outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza was reported at an “show farm” on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula, which killed 360 of the facility’s 419 birds.

Lang says there is “little to no evidence” that the strain poses a risk to humans, noting that it has manifested itself in several other parts of the world, such as Israel, where an outbreak has recently killed more people. 5,000 migrating cranes.

Lang said the current strain is particularly well suited for spreading among wild birds, as it kills many but leaves some alive. These infected birds can then spread the virus.

He said it is difficult to predict what will happen in Newfoundland.

“Best case scenario? Maybe he never leaves the island,” he said. “Maybe it’ll just go away; maybe we’ll be lucky.

As for the infected gull, Hanson said it was collected from Mundy Pond in the western part of the capital and presented to wildlife officials because it was behaving strangely. The bird died about 24 hours after its introduction, he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 31, 2021.

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