Update on Avian Influenza in Manitoba

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has now been detected in Manitoba in two cases, a Bald Eagle near Dauphin and Snow Geese near Waskada (see https://cfia-ncr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/89c779e98cdf492c899df23e1c38fdbc). The province has released more information for anyone interested – https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=54262&posted=2022-04-20

In the past 24 hours there has been a lot of debate on social media relating to bird feeders. This is obviously quite a sensitive issue for people, depending on their comfort level. Currently the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canadian Wildlife Service are still advising that bird feeders are safe because there are very few cases of HPAI in songbirds. However, if you have a feeder or a bird bath they are recommending regular cleaning. The exact wording is as follows:

“To minimize the risk of transmission of HPAI, do not handle or feed any wild bird by hand. Feeding encourages wild birds to congregate around food sources and can increase the probability of transmission among wild birds, both within and among species.

The use of bird feeders is still safe but they should be removed from areas that are open to poultry and other domestic animals. If you care for poultry, prevent contact between wild birds and poultry by removing exterior/outdoor sources of food, water and shelter that attract wild birds.

Backyard bird feeders and baths should be cleaned regularly using a weak solution of domestic bleach (10% sodium hypochlorite). Ensure they are well rinsed and dried before re-use.”

It goes without saying that this advice might change. However, HPAI has been present in Europe for much longer and the impact on songbirds there has been minimal (see list of infected species from the UK – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1069649/ai-findings-2022-wk15.csv/preview).

More information on HPAI can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/migratory-game-bird-hunting/avian-influenza-wild-birds.html