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Wildlife centre in N.S. plans to build quarantine space to fight spread of avian flu

Organization looking to build structure to house birds it suspects are infected with the disease.


March 31, 2022
By The Canadian Press

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A wildlife facility in Nova Scotia is raising funds to build a quarantine space for birds ranging from crows to bald eagles as the province deals with a growing number of cases of H5N1 avian flu.

Brenda Boates, wildlife operations manager of the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Brookfield, N.S., said Thursday that the organization estimates it needs $7,000 to build a structure to house birds it suspects are infected with the disease.

The organization is now using a modified garage to quarantine the birds. “We’re looking at a separate building that’s going to be built to our specifications and going to be able to be completely contained,” Boates said in an interview.

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The concern follows the province’s first confirmed case of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu strain in January and additional cases in wild birds and commercial flocks since, including the infection of a non-commercial flock in southern Nova Scotia discovered last week.

According to recent data from the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, as of March 22, 33 dead birds and 31 live birds have tested positive for the H5N1 strain across the Atlantic region.

The rehabilitation centre’s makeshift quarantine space houses three boxes for raptors, including bald eagles, owls and hawks, and smaller compartments for other birds, such as songbirds and crows. Boates said it is now empty after its most recent occupants were released either into the facility’s flyways or back into the wild, making it a perfect time to build a permanent structure.

Birds are quarantined for up to 30 days if they have injuries or symptoms that suggest they’re infected with the disease, she said, but none of the birds quarantined so far has tested positive.

Apart from the quarantine area, the organization has had as many as 56 animals in care at one time and the length of stay depends on the animal and the illness or injury the animal is dealing with, Boates said, ranging from a week to months.