By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Government officials are confirming avian flu has been found in Manitoba as a highly contagious strain sweeps over North America.
Manitoba Natural Resources says the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain was found in snow geese in the province’s southwest and in a bald eagle in the Dauphin area.
Bird flu has been confirmed in several Canadian provinces and the United States, including south of Manitoba in North Dakota and Minnesota.
No cases have been found in Manitoba poultry flocks and the province says the virus doesn’t threaten food safety.
The risk of avian influenza to human health is low, but the province is warning people to not touch dead birds or other wildlife with their bare hands.
Manitoba Agriculture is advising small flock owners to take precautions, especially if they have outdoor or free-roaming birds.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the H5N1 strain of avian flu can cause serious disease and death in birds. The agency said last week it has been an unprecedented year globally for avian flu and more outbreaks are expected as flocks continue to migrate north for the summer.
A Quebec duck-farming operation that detected avian flu at three of its facilities said it has to slaughter 150,000 birds and lay off nearly 300 employees. Brome Lake Ducks said Wednesday that it is likely to take six to 12 months and possibly several million dollars to fully restore operations.
There are no known cases of transmission of H5N1 from birds to humans in North America.