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Avian flu confirmed in dead geese found in Kingston park

Canada geese are seen at Lake Ontario Park in Kingston, Ont., last Friday. Avian influenza has been confirmed in about 30 geese found dead there last week. (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)
Canada geese are seen at Lake Ontario Park in Kingston, Ont., last Friday. Avian influenza has been confirmed in about 30 geese found dead there last week. (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)

Canada geese found dead in a shoreline park in Kingston, Ont., last week had avian influenza, the local health unit has confirmed.

The "deceased and distressed Canada geese" were found in Lake Ontario Park near Kingston's downtown, the city said last week.

"Staff observed signs of sickness and the presence of approximately 30 dead birds," the city said at the time, promising testing to determine the cause.

In a news release Friday, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health confirmed the avian flu diagnosis.

It said the risk to residents is low because the virus does not typically pass from birds to humans. Avian flu more often infects wild birds and domestic poultry, the health unit said.

Still, people are warned not to handle or feed wild birds, to keep pets away and to avoid bird feces.

"[Sick birds will] have symptoms consistent with neurological signs," said wildlife pathologist Brian Stevens last week.

"Sometimes they will have seizures, sometimes they'll be stumbling to walk, shaking their head and just seem a little bit off."

Here are precautions people can take if they do have to handle a sick or dead bird.

KFL&A also recommended people get their annual flu shot to lower the risk of contracting human and avian flu at the same time.

Health Canada has issued 33 known active avian flu orders, mostly in British Columbia. Kingston was not listed as of publication.