Pet dog dies from bird flu after chewing on infected goose in GTA

By Lucas Casaletto

A pet dog that contracted avian influenza after chewing on an infected goose in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has died.

In a joint statement, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said that the dog tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza, known as bird flu, on April 1.

Both agencies confirmed that the dog contracted the virus after chewing on an infected goose in Oshawa and later died after showing clinical signs of avian influenza.

“The necropsy was completed on April 3, 2023, and showed respiratory system involvement. Further testing is underway. It is the only case of its kind in Canada,” the joint statement read.

RELATED: Hundreds of birds reported dead across GTHA, carcasses being tested for avian influenza

The number of reported cases of avian influenza in non-avian species, such as cats and dogs, remains low despite the virus causing large global outbreaks over the last few years. No domestically acquired human cases of avian influenza have been reported in Canada.

On Tuesday, the City of Mississauga announced birds that were recently found dead tested positive for the virus. Local animal services noted that the illness can “quickly devastate bird and wildlife populations, which can profoundly impact our environment and food chain.”

A recently confirmed case of bird flu at a chicken farm in the Niagara Region prompted the Toronto Zoo to take steps to protect its birds.

The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative confirmed last Thursday that avian influenza was the cause of death of waterfowl found in a stormwater pond in Bolton two weeks ago.

Canada’s health agency said that the risk to the general public remains low based on current evidence. Scientific evidence suggests that the risk of a human contracting bird flu from a domestic pet is minor.

Pet owners are advised not to feed pets, especially dogs and cats, any raw meat from game birds or poultry and not to allow pets to consume or play with dead wild birds found outside. Owners are urged to contact their veterinarian if they have questions about their pet’s health.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, wild birds in Canada and around the world are natural carriers of avian influenza viruses, which can spread to domestic chickens and sometimes to mammals, including foxes, skunks and mink, who may eat infected birds.

With files from Michael Talbot of CityNews

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