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Authorities Vigilant as Bird Flu Cases Rise Across the United States

Avian influenza, specifically subtypes H5 and H7, is a reportable zoonotic disease in Quebec, capable of transmission between animals and humans.

While human cases of bird flu are rare, three cases were reported last spring in the United States, linked to infected dairy farms. Two cases presented with eye symptoms, and one with a respiratory infection.

Globally, since the emergence of a specific H5N1 clade in 2022, 15 human cases have been documented: two in China, two in Spain, five in the UK, four in the US, and one each in Ecuador and Chile. The majority had prior poultry exposure, highlighting limited human transmission potential, according to Quebec’s Ministry of Health.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt, a veterinary medicine professor, noted Canada’s historically low pathogenic H5N1, contrasting with global rises in highly pathogenic strains. He emphasized vigilance despite minimal current risks, cautioning against complacency post-COVID.

Concerns escalate with H5N1 detections in US wild birds, dairy cows across 12 states, and over 200 mammal species nationwide.

Quebec and Canada have yet to report cases in dairy cows or products. However, heightened vigilance is advised, including biosecurity enhancements for vulnerable sectors like sheep, beef, and pork.

The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture and partners urge dairy farmers to bolster biosecurity, with CFIA tightening measures for lactating dairy cow imports.

Wild birds are primary carriers, spreading the virus through droppings. Stringent biosecurity measures, like pond removal and separate equipment, mitigate farm risks.

Producers anticipate health improvements amid Quebec’s 2022 poultry site infections. Protocols mandate complete depopulation and disinfection of contaminated sites.

Unlike poultry, avian flu in cattle prompts no mass cull, with focus on clinical signs and risk mitigation. MAPAQ outlines voluntary self-quarantine and milk disposal protocols to contain spread.

Enhanced biosecurity and vigilance remain crucial amidst ongoing avian flu threats, underscoring proactive industry and regulatory measures to safeguard Quebec’s agricultural landscape.

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