Statement on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus in Yukon wild birds

A statement from the Government of Yukon’s Program Veterinarian Kristenn Magnusson:

“The Government of Yukon’s Animal Health Unit, along with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service, have confirmation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 virus in wild birds in the Yukon.

"Two wild waterfowl carcasses submitted from southern Yukon have tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

"There is currently an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza occurring across Canada. A strain of avian influenza is given the designation of 'highly pathogenic' when it causes severe illness and a high death rate in birds. Migratory wild birds are carrying the virus. Spring migration is ongoing and further detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the Yukon are likely. 

"This is something the Government of Yukon takes seriously. Animal Health Unit veterinarians actively tracks diseases in the Yukon when they appear or are transmitted to monitor and safeguard the health of Yukon wildlife and domestic animals.

"We encourage the public to report sightings of sick or dead wild birds for testing and removal of the carcass from the environment. Reports can be made to the TIPP line at 1-800-661-0525 or Yukon.ca/TIPP.

"Livestock farmers and Yukoners who own domestic birds need to protect their birds from this virus. Avian Influenza causes severe illness and death in domestic birds. This includes backyard hens and pet poultry, as well as commercial poultry farms. Pigs can also get influenza viruses and need to be housed separately from poultry.

"Find out how to protect your birds at Protect your flock from bird flu – Canadian Food Inspection Agency (canada.ca).

"If you own birds, provide the Government of Yukon’s Agriculture Branch with your contact information to receive important updates and information. Call 867-667-5838 or toll free 1-800-661-0408 (ask to be transferred) or email agriculture-livestock@yukon.ca.

"If Avian Influenza affects a domestic flock in the Yukon, the Yukon government will provide a joint response with the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency. We will help Yukon bird producers contain the virus and, under quarantine order, compensation is available for birds that are destroyed due to the virus.

"It is possible for mammals (cats, dogs and pigs, etc.) and humans to be infected with Avian Influenza but infections are rare. Yukoners should keep pets away from bird carcasses, and consider keeping their pets indoors or on leash in areas birds frequent. Exposure to Avian Influenza does not always result in illness. Contact your local veterinarian with any concerns about your domestic pets.

"Human cases of this strain of avian influenza are very uncommon. Human illness tends to be caused by close contact with infected live or dead poultry. While the risk of human infection with avian influenza viruses is low, individuals should be cautious when handling sick or dead birds.

"If you become ill after handling birds, see your doctor or call Yukon Communicable Disease Control (YCDC) at 867-667-8323.

"If you have concerns or questions, contact Yukon Communicable Disease Control.”

Quick facts 
Contact 

Sophie Best
Communications, Environment
867-334-5922
sophie.best@yukon.ca

News release #: 
22-177