A dog in the Canadian province of Ontario has died of H5N1 bird flu after coming into contact with wild birds, health officials said. It is believed to be the first time a dog has tested positive for the new strain of the virus.
A statement from the Canadian Public Health Agency said a dog in Oshawa, a city in Ontario, tested positive for avian influenza after chewing on a dead goose. 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 were positive,” said Dr. Scott Weese, the Director of the Center for Public Health and Zoonoses at the University of Guelph.
“Sequencing of the virus at the National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases was performed and the virus from the dog and goose was the same, and consistent with the H5N1 strain circulating in wild birds and domestic poultry,” he said.
It is believed to be the first time a dog has been infected with the new strain of H5N1, which appeared in late 2021. In 2004, a dog in Thailand died from the previous strain of H5N1 after eating an infected duck of viruses. .
In December, a cat on a poultry farm in southern France also tested positive for the new strain of H5N1. The cat became ill and was euthanized on December 23.
“Based on current evidence in Canada, the risk to the general public remains low and current scientific evidence suggests that the risk of a person contracting avian influenza from a pet is small,” the government said in a statement.
However, pet owners are advised not to give any raw meat from game birds or poultry to pets – such as dogs and cats – and not to let them eat or play with wild animals. that bird
Dr. called Weese’s case is “regarding but not surprising” and “not a doomsday scenario.”
“This is worrisome because any spillover to mammals raises concerns about the continued adaptation of this virus to spread outside of birds,” he said. “It’s not surprising because when you have millions of infected birds around the world, it’s inevitable that domestic and wild mammals will be exposed.”
A wide range of Canadian animals tested positive for bird flu last year, including foxes, seals, dolphins, black bears, wild mink, porpoises and skunks, according to the National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases.
The global spread of H5N1 clade 22.214.171.124b – and its recent spread to an increasing number of mammals – has raised concern about the possibility of a future variant 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 because of the widespread spread of the virus in birds worldwide and the increasing reports of cases in mammals, including humans,” said Dr. Sylvie Briand, a WHO official, on February 24. “WHO takes the risk from this virus seriously and urges increased vigilance from all countries.”
Last week, Chile reported that more than 1,500 sea lions were believed to have died of H5N1 bird flu, which followed the deaths of at least 3,500 sea lions in neighboring Peru. Chile also reported its first human case of bird flu on March 29.