A confirmed case of the H5N1 avian flu was found in Nova Scotia in a Canada goose last week and now the Department of Natural Resources is testing birds around the province to get a sense of how widespread the outbreak might be.
This particular strain of the virus has not been seen in years, according to the director of wildlife at the Department of Natural Resources, Bob Petrie.
“It is something we’re taking very seriously,” he says.
Petrie confirms staff have been responding to various calls provincewide about more suspected cases as the virus emerges.
“As you can imagine, it takes time for results to get submitted to the lab and returned from the lab but it is going to be a few days before we start to see lab-confirmed results.”
In an effort to work proactively, staff are also being mobilized around the province to respond to reports of sick animals and send samples to the lab as cases are reported.
“What we recommend to the public is not to be handling dead or sick birds that they might come across. What we really ask is people report them to our 800 number or to their local department of renewables and natural resources and we will send technicians out to collect them if needed.”
The N.S. Agriculture Department, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Health are working in a collaborative effort to respond to the outbreak.
“We’re watching closely right now what’s been happening in Newfoundland. They’ve been responding to this for a couple of weeks now anyway. So, we’re just going to have to keep on monitoring this week by week to see how it expands,” Petrie says.