A dog in Ontario, Canada, has died from H5N1 bird flu after contact with wild birds, health officials said. This is believed to be the first time a dog has tested positive for the new virus.
A dog in Oshawa, Ontario, tested positive for bird flu after biting a dead goose, according to a Public Health Service of Canada statement. The dog developed clinical signs of bird flu and died a few days later.
“Both the dog and the goose were tested for the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus and both tested positive,” said Dr. Scott Wease, director of the Center for Public Health and Zoonotic Diseases at the University of Guelph.
“Sequencing of the virus was done at the National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases and found that the virus in dogs and geese is the same, consistent with the H5N1 strain circulating in wild and poultry,” he said.
This is believed to be the first time a dog has been infected with the new strain of H5N1 that emerged in late 2021. .
In December, a cat on a chicken farm in the south of France also tested positive for the new strain of H5N1.
“Based on current evidence in Canada, the risk to the general public remains low, and current scientific evidence suggests that the risk of human contracting bird flu from domesticated pets is small.” the government said in a statement.
Nonetheless, pet owners are advised not to feed wild game or poultry to pets such as dogs and cats, nor to allow wild birds to eat or play.
Dr. Weis called the incident “concerning but not surprising” and “not a doomsday scenario.”
“The spread to mammals is concerning because it raises concerns that this virus will continue to adapt as it spreads outside of birds,” he said. It’s not surprising because exposure of domestic and wild mammals is inevitable when there are millions of them.”
According to the National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases, a variety of animals tested positive for bird flu in Canada last year, including foxes, seals, dolphins, black bears, wild minks, porpoises and skunks.
The global spread of H5N1 clade 220.127.116.11b, and its recent increase in mammalian spread, have raised concerns about the potential for future variants that could lead to human-to-human transmission. So far, only a few human cases have been found after contact with infected birds.
“The global H5N1 situation is alarming given the spread of the virus in birds around the world and the increasing number of case reports in mammals, including humans. We urge the countries of
Last week, Chile reported that more than 1,500 sea lions are believed to have died from the H5N1 bird flu, following the deaths of at least 3,500 in neighboring Peru. Chile also reported its first human case of bird flu on March 29.