A good number of dead birds have been cataloged, according to the report that was made between Rivière-du-Loup and Trois-Pistoles. A total of 870 common eider carcasses and nearly 200 gulls were found on the various islands visited last week by the Governor Company. After discovering these along with the San Lorenzo, the analysis began. An exercise that finally revealed the presence of bird flu.
“We did tests on five eider carcasses and five seagull carcasses from Île Blanche, which were sent to Saint-Hyacinthe for PCR analysis. They have all been declared positive for the virus,” says Jean-François Giroux, administrator of Duvetnor and professor of biology at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).
Usually, during this same period, there are between 10 and 15 dead birds. On White Island, 175 eider carcasses and 55 seagulls were found. Therefore, the spread of bird flu, especially in animals, continues to be closely monitored by experts, and analyzes are still ongoing to collect results for Île aux Pommes and Île aux Basques, in particular, while more than 600 carcasses were discovered in these locations.
“We found a much higher than usual number of dead bird carcasses of seagulls and especially eider ducks. The 10 samples that we sent were declared positive for avian influenza. So we can assume that the other birds also died from this disease. It should be remembered that eiders are also sensitive to epidemics. The last epidemic that was not influenza, but avian cholera, which is a bacterium and not a virus, dates back to 2002. So, there is a history that these birds were affected by epidemics”, adds Mr. Giroux.
“There are the consequences that we see on the ground, but we should also find the cause of these epidemics and act,” explains the guard and captain of the island to the Basques, Mikael Rioux.
The risk of contamination in humans is quite low, but the authorities remind us that dead wild birds should not be handled. It is recommended to notify the Ministry of Wildlife when a carcass is discovered.
“This risk is very low for human populations, except in some cases for those who work in poultry farms or slaughterhouses, therefore in very closed places. In a natural environment, where there is wind, the contamination of avian flu is minimal. Also, on the islands, it is currently very difficult to bring the corpses back to the mainland, due to shipping and the risk of further spread of the virus. For the time being, the corpses will remain on the spot”, mentions Jean-François Giroux.
At the dawn of the summer season, this unusual event, which is also present elsewhere in Bas-Saint-Laurent and the Magdalen Islands, could have a considerable impact.
“For a place like Île aux Basques, I don’t think it will stop tourism, but if you think about places where there are beaches like Îles-de-la-Madeleine, where people actually go to these places to enjoy the beaches and swim, it It is true that if the corpses are not collected and it continues, it can have an impact”, he concludes.
Quebec will prepare an official report on the number of bodies found in Bas-Saint-Laurent in the coming days. An observation that will provide a better overview of the problem.
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