Skunks in Vancouver and Richmond have caught avian flu

Mar 13 2023, 8:59 pm

A handful of dead skunks in Vancouver and Richmond have tested positive for avian influenza, the BC government revealed in a news release Monday.

A total of eight skunks found in residential areas were found to have caught the virus that usually infects birds.

The skunks were initially brought in due to concerns they may have been deliberately poisoned. But after testing, it was found they had the same strain of H5N1 flu that’s caused deaths in wildlife and poultry since April 2022.

The skunks may have come down with bird flu after scavenging infected wild birds.

“While influenza in skunks is considered to be a low risk to human health, there are always risks when people and pets come into contact with sick or dead wild animals, including skunks and birds,” The Ministry of Forests said in the release.

Anyone who encounters a dead skunk in Richmond or Vancouver should leave it be and contact the BC Wildlife Health Program at 250 751-7246.

An outbreak of avian flu has been making several species of birds and mammals sick since April 2022. More than 20 types of birds, two skunks, and one fox in rural areas of the province have been infected.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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