Avian influenza

Avian influenza, also known as “bird flu,” has been detected in Nova Scotia. There are steps you can take to limit the spread between birds and protect yourself.

About avian influenza

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) is a viral infection that spreads easily between birds. The infection can cause sickness and death in birds, including poultry. Some birds, like ducks, can carry the virus without getting sick, but can still infect other birds.

In Nova Scotia, wild birds and domestic poultry have tested positive for avian influenza.

Risks to human health

Humans can become infected with avian influenza, but cases are rare. The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected bird or a contaminated surface. In Nova Scotia, there are no cases of human infection with avian influenza.

Avian influenza symptoms vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • aching muscles
  • sore throat
  • red or runny eyes
  • diarrhea and abdominal pain
  • respiratory illness or difficulty breathing

Learn more: Symptoms of avian influenza (Government of Canada)

Protect yourself

To protect yourself from exposure to avian influenza:

  • do not handle any birds
  • avoid direct contact with bird blood, feces or respiratory secretions
  • immediately remove and wash any clothing that may be contaminated

If you have handled wild birds or have come into contact with contaminated surfaces, contact your healthcare provider or call 811.

Protect wild birds

To limit the spread of avian influenza between wild birds, remove bird feeders and do not feed birds (feeding encourages birds to gather).

Report injured, sick or dead birds to the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables by calling 1-800-565-2224.

Protect poultry

Avian influenza can have severe impacts on domestic poultry flocks, including death and depopulation. To protect your flock:

  • prevent contact with wild birds and other animals
  • thoroughly clean barns, cages, equipment, feed containers, clothing and other surfaces
  • limit exposure to visitors
  • keep new birds separate from an existing flock
  • monitor for symptoms and contact a veterinarian if you suspect your birds are sick

Learn more: Protect your flock from bird flu (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

Where to find more information

You can contact the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables to learn more about avian influenza in Nova Scotia and to report sick, injured or dead birds.