A dog in Oshawa, Ont., contracted the avian flu and has died, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The dog was infected with avian flu, also known as H5N1 or the bird flu, after chewing on a wild goose, according to the agency, and died after developing “clinical signs.”
The case was confirmed on April 1 and the necropsy, which showed the respiratory system was involved in the death, was completed on April 3.
“Further testing is underway,” CFIA said in a statement released Tuesday. “It is the only case of its kind in Canada.”
The agency said the number of documented H5N1 cases in non-avian species is low, despite large avian outbreaks across the globe in the last few years.
“Based on the current evidence in Canada, the risk to the general public remains low and current scientific evidence suggests that the risk of a human contracting avian influenza from a domestic pet is minor,” the agency said.
The only human case ever recorded in Canada was in 2014, when a Canadian died from avian influenza after returning from a trip overseas. Human cases are rare and “almost always acquired through direct contact with infected birds or exposure to heavily contaminated environments.”
“To date, there has been no evidence of sustained person-to-person spread.”
However, Shayan Sharif, a professor and associate dean with the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, told Global News previously that the virus is “gathering momentum” and becoming more of a human threat.
“Various pieces of the puzzle are coming together for this virus to become transmissible among humans,” he said. “And this particular virus has the potential to become a pandemic virus, and if it does, then we have to be absolutely ready because the fatality rate of this virus could be far greater than what we saw for COVID-19.”
The CFIA recommends taking precautions with pets, including not feeding them raw meat from game birds or poultry, and not allowing pets to consume or play with dead wild birds found outside.
The virus has been detected in other mammals, including foxes in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., as well as seals, dolphins and black bears in Quebec, and wild mink, raccoons, porpoises and skunks from areas across Canada.
Cases of bird flu were confirmed in Mississauga, Ont., earlier on Tuesday.
— with files from Global News’ Katie Dangerfield