Everything You Need to Know About Avian Influenza

Posted March 1, 2024 by Elin Molenaar, Communications Assistant

Avian influenza primarily affects domestic poultry and wild birds and is highly contagious amongst birds. Wild species most affected by avian influenza are ducks, geese, raptors and corvids (like crows and ravens). There is currently no treatment for the virus, and it can be very deadly to birds. 

Wildlife Rescue notices an increase in birds presenting with contagious avian diseases, such as avian influenza, during fall and spring migration as birds naturally come together in large numbers. 

Common symptoms of avian flu include: 

  • Seizures 
  • Lack of energy or movement
  • Paralysis 
  • Swelling around the face/head 
  • Lack of coordination 
  • Cloudy eyes



Most recent updates on avian influenza 

For the most current guidance regarding wild birds, bird feeders, caring for domestic birds, and reporting sick or dead birds please visit the official Government of Canada website. 

For a detailed overview, you can also refer to the BC Avian Infuenza Dashboard.

Wildlife Rescue is not responsible for the surveillance of avian influenza in Canada. For the most up-to-date reports and information on the status of avian influenza in Canada, please refer to the Government of Canada website. 


What to do when you encounter sick wildlife

Do not touch the bird before contacting Wildlife Rescue or the Interagency Wild Bird Mortality Line. They will give you PPE guidance depending on the situation at hand.  

Some other things to keep in mind: 

  • Do not bring sick wild animals into your home. 
  • Keep your pets away from sick or dead animals and their feces. 
  • Report sick or dead animals as follows: 

Found a deceased duck, swan, goose, raptor or three or more deceased birds together? 

Contact the Interagency Wild Bird Mortality Line at 1-866-431-2473. The Interagency Wild Bird Mortality Line is a monitoring program that reports back to government agencies. You can find more information on the program here.

Found a live bird with avian flu symptoms? 

Contact our Support Centre here:

Report a Wildlife Emergency


Dropping off sick animals at Wildlife Rescue 

At Wildlife Rescue, isolation drop-off spaces are in place to hold any patients suspected of carrying contagious diseases. We ask everyone bringing in sick animals to drop these off in the designated isolation drop-off space and follow the guidelines given to you by our Support Centre staff to help prevent disease from spreading. 

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