Local biologist concerned about spread of avian flu in Maritimes – Halifax.CityNews.ca

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The discovery of potentially hundreds of bird remains on Bear Island has local biologists worried about the spread of avian influenza in the Maritimes. 
Bob Bancroft is a retired wildlife biologist who says the avian flu has spread to several species of birds and is widespread in the east coast provinces. 
"We don't know whether it's going to spread to more or not, but I think it should be taken very seriously and people should be very careful about what they do," Bancroft told CityNews. 
Bancroft knows people get a great deal of enjoyment from feeding birds, but the use of feeders may be adding to the spread of the flu within the bird population. 
"I think we should see what [local wildlife protection organizations] have to say based on the knowledge they have on how avian flu is spreading in the Maritimes," Bancroft explained. 
Bancroft says if anyone stumbles across a bird in trouble and feels compelled to help, they should proceed cautiously. 
Bancroft says the avian flu is spread through secretions, so people should avoid close contact. 
"The avian flu surfaced in humans for the first time just a few short years ago," Bancroft said. 
Bancroft said because the disease modifies itself frequently, similar to COVID, it raised alarm bells when it made the jump to humans.
The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative describes the avian flu as "a type 'A' influenza virus, is a contagious viral infection that can affect all species of birds but can, less commonly, infect mammals. While all bird species are thought to be susceptible to infection, domestic poultry flocks are especially vulnerable to infections that can rapidly turn into epidemics."
"Influenza A viruses are among the pathogens most likely to cause large-scale epidemics of high morbidity and mortality in human populations. As such, they are pathogens of the highest concern for public health organizations worldwide," the website states. 
Bancroft says the flu has spread to smaller birds like blue jays, as well as hawks, owls, waterfowl and now gulls. 
Bancroft says if people have information to report, to contact the wildlife health cooperative
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