Avian Influenza

Avian influenza (AI), sometimes called ‘avian flu’, is a contagious viral disease that affects many domestic and wild bird species.

There are many strains of AI virus, generally classified into 2 categories:

  • low pathogenic (LPAI) strains typically cause few or no clinical signs in poultry, and may go undetected due to a lack of disease in some species of birds
  • highly pathogenic (HPAI) strains can cause severe clinical signs and potentially high mortality rates among poultry

Influenza viruses of avian origin may on rare occasions cause disease in humans. Human to human transmission of avian influenza is extremely rare.

Avian Influenza H5N1 Update April 2022

Detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in Canada 2021-2022

Recently, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has advised the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of the confirmed presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in Canada.

There have been regular reports of wild birds testing positive with HPAI subtype H5N1 throughout North America this year, in Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, as well as in 24 states throughout eastern and central United States (US).

Avian Influenza is currently spreading in wild bird populations across the globe and presents a significant national concern as birds migrate to Canada. The CFIA continues to remind anyone with animal farms, specifically poultry or other susceptible birds, to practice good biosecurity habits to protect them from infectious animal diseases.

Quick facts on H5N1 avian influenza (bird flu):

  • The risk of human-to-human spread of H5N1 avian influenza is low. The symptoms of Avian Influenza can resemble those of human influenza, including:
    • fever, cough, aching muscles and a sore throat. 
    • other early symptoms, mainly related to H5N1, may include: diarrhea, stomach pain and chest pain,
    • eye infections and
    • serious respiratory infections, including pneumonia.

If you are living (or have travelled) to an area where avian influenza (H5N1) is a concern:

  • Get a flu shot;
  • Wash your hands regularly and with thorough use of soap and warm water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also be used if soap and water are not available. It’s a good idea to always keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you when you travel;
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Avoid high-risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets;
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with birds (alive or dead), including chickens, ducks and wild birds;
  • Avoid surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them; and
  • Ensure that all poultry dishes are well cooked, including eggs.

Helpful Links and Resources

For the Public

General Information

Information for Health Care Providers

Information for Hunters and Wildlife Enthusiasts

Other Resources

Animal Health

Public Health | Environmental Health
Manitoba Health

4th Floor - 300 Carlton St.
Winnipeg MB  R3B 3M9
Phone: 204-788-6735
Fax: 204-948-2040