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Avian flu continues to batter Island’s Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

A recent bout of avian flu continues to affect birds around the Tofino - Ucluelet region
(Catherine Jardine photo)

A recent bout of avian flu continues to affect West Coast birds.

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve confirmed in March that birds in the region were experiencing avian influenza with confirmed cases detected in sick and deceased birds.

“Avian influenza is endemic to wild bird populations and many strains occur naturally. The viral infection can spread to domestic birds and mammals, but it is rare for avian influenza viruses to cause disease in humans,” the Park Reserve announced.

On May 15, the Park Reserve sent out a new advisory confirming that birds continue to be affected.

“Canada has seen outbreaks of a highly infectious strain of avian influenza, a naturally occurring virus that affects wild and domestic birds. The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve region has documented confirmed cases,” the announcement reads. “For your safety, please do not touch or handle dead wildlife. While risk of transmission to humans is rare, infections can occur, as well as transmission to mammals.”

The announcement notes an emerging strain of avian influenza has recently been detected in the United States.

Visitors are urged not to touch sick or deceased birds and to report any they find to the provincial Wild Bird Reporting Line at 1-866-431-2474 or the Park Reserve at

“The risk for mammal-to-mammal transmission has recently been evaluated by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It determined that the risk to the general public has not changed and is still very low, and the current virus has limited capacity to infect humans,” May 15’s update reads.

“Monitoring helps to understand future virus evolution and spread in new hosts. Parks Canada continues to be engaged with other government partners in wild bird surveillance activities and ongoing risk assessment, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, and One Health initiatives to determine exposure to avian influenza viruses in wild mammals and birds in most of our sites.”

More information about avian influenza can be found at the provincial government’s website,

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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