With cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza spreading in B.C., the BCSPCA is asking the public to temporarily remove backyard bird feeders and empty bird baths to stop the spread of the disease.
Avian influenza, otherwise known as ‘bird flu’, can affect many different bird species, ranging from turkeys to the birds many keep as pets.
“On rare occasions, this virus can also cause disease in humans who have been in close contact with infected birds, or heavily contaminated areas,” said Andrea Wallace, manager of wild animal welfare for the BC SPCA in a news release on Thursday (May 5).
The illness is released by the birds that are infected through feces, which can live on in environments like bird feeders and baths for months, being able to pass on the virus to other birds.
Bird feeders can encourage the virus to spread because they are gathering areas for the feathered animals.
“Fallen seed is also an especially dangerous source of disease — when birds feed from the ground, they are also exposed to droppings that accumulate below a feeder,” Wallace said.
Along with removing bird feeders, BC SPCA is asking the public to keep an eye on their outdoor surroundings for infected birds who may need immediate attention. Birds with the virus typically have swelling around their eyes and head, watery eyes and nasal discharge.
The BC SPCA is advising the public to report sightings of sick or deceased birds to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at 1-800-567-2033 and to not take them to veterinary or wildlife centres.