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Quebec wildlife authorities say first cases of avian flu identified among wild birds

A Canada Goose finds a patch of grass to feed with spring not far away in Montreal on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press Images

Quebec wildlife authorities say the first three cases of bird flu in the province have been identified among wild birds.

The province’s Wildlife Department said Monday the H5N1 strain of avian influenza was confirmed during a surveillance operation in southwestern Quebec.

Read more: 'Be extremely vigilant’: farmers, feds worried about growing outbreaks of bird flu

The strain was detected in a Canada goose in Granby, Que., east of Montreal, and in two snow geese in the Montérégie region, located south of Montreal.

Quebec authorities say the arrival of the flu was expected as several cases had been identified in both wild and farmed birds in Canada since December 2021, including in the Maritime provinces, Ontario and British Columbia.

Read more: 4th southern Ontario poultry farm quarantined after bird flu confirmed

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Cases have also been identified in the United States, and the virus has been spreading since 2020 in Europe.

Avian influenza is a virus that is present naturally among wild birds, in particular among aquatic species like geese, ducks and seagulls.

While it usually causes few clinical symptoms in wild birds, officials say domestic birds are more sensitive to the virus, which can cause high death rates in poultry farms.

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