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Suspected avian flu found in local geese

A total of 240 geese with suspected avian influenza have been removed from various locations across Markham. Of those, 100 were removed between March 24 and 31.

“There have been no further large-scale outbreaks, but the city is still monitoring the situation,” says Animal Services Supervisor Christy Lehman.

Avian influenza, also known as bird flu or avian flu, is a disease caused by the Type A (H5N1) influenza virus that can affect all bird species, including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl. It’s spread through direct contact from an infected bird to a healthy bird and when a healthy bird comes into contact with equipment and/or materials, including water and feed, contaminated with feces and/or secretions from infected birds.

While the risk of transmission of avian flu from birds to residents and pets remains “very low,” Lehman advises residents to be “diligent” and recommends staying away from all birds, whether they’re dead or ill. Don’t attempt to help any sick animals and keep your pets on leash and away from birds and bird droppings. Call 905-415-7531 to report any dead or ill birds.

To reduce the spread of avian influenza, York Region urges you to consider removing backyard bird feeders and/or bird baths or move them far away from pets. Clean bird feeders with 10 per cent bleach at least once every two weeks and then wash hands thoroughly after touching the bird feeder. There’s no evidence that eating cooked poultry or eggs could transmit avian flu to humans, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Markham has posted warning signs in areas where geese have tested positive for avian influenza. Learn more at york.ca/AvianFlu.

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