A skunk is seen in an undated handout photo. Eight skunks found dead last month in Vancouver and nearby Richmond, B.C., tested positive for avian flu. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Critter Care Wildlife Society

A skunk is seen in an undated handout photo. Eight skunks found dead last month in Vancouver and nearby Richmond, B.C., tested positive for avian flu. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Critter Care Wildlife Society

Eight skunks found dead in Metro Vancouver had avian flu: government

Skunks may have contracted H5N1 by scavenging on infected wild birds

Eight skunks found dead last month in Vancouver and nearby Richmond, B.C., tested positive for avian flu.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture says the skunks were infected with the same H5N1 strain that has caused the deaths of millions of domestic poultry since the outbreak began in April last year.

The skunks were found in residential areas in both cities and were taken to B.C.’s Animal Health Centre over concerns they may have been deliberately poisoned.

The ministry says in a statement the skunks may have contracted H5N1 by scavenging on infected wild birds.

The statement says while avian flu in skunks is considered to be a low risk to human health, there are always risks when people or pets come into contact with sick or dead wild animals.

Since last April, the ministry says wildlife infected by the flu included more than 20 species of wild birds, two skunks and a fox found in rural areas of the province.

RELATED: What we know about H5N1 avian flu and the risk to humans

RELATED: B.C. avian flu spreading debate about bird management

Wildlife

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