Avian influenza, also known as avian or bird flu, is caused by infection with an avian influenza virus.
If you have livestock, learn what special precautions you can take.
There are several different strains of avian influenza viruses. Some are commonly found in wild birds.
A strain of the virus known as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is spreading in domestic and wild birds in North America and elsewhere. This strain (called H5N1) can spread easily and quickly among susceptible birds. This strain causes severe illness and a high death rate in infected birds. This strain can also spread to other mammals such as domestic livestock, house pets or some species of wild mammals.
We monitor avian influenza in wildlife in the Yukon in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service.
Human cases of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza are uncommon. Close contact with infected live or dead birds can cause illness in humans. While the risk of human infection from H5N1 is low, be careful when you handle sick or dead birds or mammals.
- Watch for symptoms 10 days after exposure.
- If symptoms do develop, see your health care provider or call Yukon Communicable Disease Control (YCDC) at 867-667-8323 and tell them you may have been exposed to avian influenza.
- Isolate away from family members to minimize any risk of transmission.
Your health care provider or Yukon Communicable Disease Control may ask you to get tested for influenza.
The reported signs and symptoms of avian influenza in humans have ranged from no symptoms to mild illness to severe symptoms (such as pneumonia requiring hospitalization). Watch for these symptoms, alone or combined, for 10 days after your suspected exposure:
- fever, a temperature of 37.8°C (110.04°F) or higher, though there may not always be a fever;
- muscle or body aches
- eye redness;
- headaches; and
- sore throat.
- People who handle live birds as part of their job should receive annual influenza immunization (for example, poultry farmers or processors).
- Wear personal protective equipment (including gloves and a mask) when you handle sick or dead birds.
- When you handle birds:
- avoid direct contact with blood, feces and respiratory secretions of all birds;
- always work in a well-ventilated environment;
- when you work outdoors, try to stay upwind of birds to avoid inhaling dust, feathers and aerosols;
- do not eat, drink, or smoke;
- wear gloves (for example, vinyl, latex, nitrile, rubber); and
- keep young children and pets away from areas that could be contaminated by contact with sick birds.
- When you clean up after handling game:
- thoroughly clean tools and work surfaces with hot, soapy water, and then disinfect using a household disinfectant (such as diluted household bleach); and
- immediately remove and wash your clothing and footwear that may be contaminated with blood, feces or respiratory secretions.
- Avoid surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them.
- When eating poultry, including eggs, make sure that the food is cooked well.
- Wash your hands frequently:
- use soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds; and
- if soap is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Monitor your health for signs and symptoms of avian influenza.
- Farmers need to take precautions to protect their livestock
The Animal Health Unit tests wild birds and mammals for avian influenza viruses. If the virus is detected on a preliminary test, a laboratory will analyze the sample further to confirm the virus strain.
Wild birds and one wild mammal have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the Yukon.
Testing results from April 2022 to May 29, 2023
- Samples tested negative for HPAI: 94
- Samples tested positive for HPAI (preliminary): 4
- Samples tested positive for HPAI (confirmed H5N1): 6
Surveillance for avian influenza viruses is ongoing, and additional cases are expected in wild birds and potentially wild mammals. It's likely the virus will continue to travel with wild birds throughout the year. Migration will likely result in greater movement of the virus.
If you have a sick or dead domestic bird, contact your veterinarian and immediately report it to the Animal Health Unit: phone 867-667-5600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you find a dead wild bird, you can give the carcass to the Animal Health Unit at the Department of Environment. For more information phone 867-667-5600 or email email@example.com.
If you find a sick or injured bird alive, report it to the TIPP line, or phone 1-800-661-0525.
If you have concerns or become ill after handling birds, see your doctor or phone Yukon Communicable Disease Control (YCDC) 867-667-8323.