A domestic dog in Oshawa, Ont., has died after contracting highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reports.
The dog is assumed to have been exposed to the disease after chewing on a wild goose, according to a joint statement from CFIA and the Public Health Agency of Canada. It died after developing clinical signs of avian flu.
A necropsy completed two days after the dog’s death indicated respiratory system involvement, CFIA reports. Further testing is underway.
The case is the only one of its kind in Canada, the agency adds.
“The number of documented cases of avian influenza H5N1 in non-avian species, such as cats and dogs, is low, despite the fact that this virus has caused large avian outbreaks globally over the last few years,” CFIA says.
The risk to public health is also low, the agency reports.
“No domestically acquired human cases of avian influenza have been reported in Canada,” CFIA says. “Cases of avian influenza among humans are rare and almost always acquired through direct contact with infected birds or exposure to heavily contaminated environments.”
Owners are advised to take appropriate precautions to protect their pets and themselves, including:
- not feeding pets raw meat from game birds or poultry
- not allowing pets to consume or play with dead wild birds found outside
- contacting their veterinarian if they have questions about their pet’s health
Recent weeks have seen several confirmed or suspected reports of avian influenza from several areas in southwestern Ontario, including Halton Region and Mississauga.
“We’ve received multiple calls from residents reporting sick, dying, or dead birds, and are working closely with Peel Public Health and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative to assess risks,” says Jay Smith, a manager with Mississauga Animal Services. “With many birds migrating back to Ontario for the spring migration, our investigation and response will be ongoing.”
“The avian flu is a contagious viral disease, which is fatal to wild birds and mammals,” he adds. “It can quickly devastate bird and wildlife populations, which can profoundly impact our environment and food chain.”
For more on avian flu, click here.