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Bird feeders can help spread deadly avian flu, cautions N.S. wildlife biologist –



Sorry, bird lovers, you need to put away your feeders.

That’s the advice from a Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry wildlife biologist now that the province is dealing with a deadly strain of avian flu.

“We can protect birds by not using backyard bird feeders,” said Elizabeth Walsh, who is based in Coxheath, near Sydney.


“Removing feeders will help stop the virus from spreading. I do realize people enjoy their feeders. However, as a bird lover, we also want to be making sure that … our wild populations are safe.”

The highly pathogenic avian influenza, H5N1, was first confirmed in a wild goose in Halifax County on Jan. 28.

After that, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed its presence in a turkey flock on a farm in western Nova Scotia. All of the farm’s 12,000 turkeys died — some from the virus, while the rest were culled to help prevent further spread.

Although there’s been no large die-off in any wild bird species in the region yet, officials are recommending people take down bird feeders. (Submitted by Tim Spicer)

“It does pose a threat to both the domestic poultry as well as wild birds,” said Walsh. “Because when birds do congregate at sites, they can spread the infection through their feces and other bodily fluids from their respiratory tract.”

Since the wild goose tested positive in late January, three more dead wild birds from Nova Scotia — in Halifax and Hants counties — were confirmed to have had avian flu as of March 10.

Avian influenza has also been confirmed in NewfoundlandPrince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

Dr. Megan Jones, a veterinarian who is the regional director of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative in Charlottetown, said a group of wild, live ducks in Hants County were tested for avian flu. She said several tested positive.

The Atlantic provinces send dead, wild birds to that organization for testing.

Jones said her group has been testing dead birds for avian influenza since 2005.

“What’s different right now is that we’re actually getting positive results, which in the past we haven’t,” she said. “In Atlantic Canada, at least, we haven’t had this highly pathogenic avian influenza show up.”

Israeli workers return to shore with carcasses of gray cranes, which died as a result of a bird flu outbreak in the northern Hula Valley, an important point on their migratory path toward Africa, on Dec. 26, 2021. (Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty Images)

Both Walsh and Jones mentioned an outbreak of avian flu that killed more than 5,000 migratory cranes in Israel in late 2021 as a worst-case scenario. That outbreak also forced farmers to slaughter hundreds of thousands of chickens.

Although wild birds from all four Atlantic provinces have tested positive for avian flu, there’s been no large die-off in this region yet.

“It’s a significant disease, but it does appear to be relatively sporadic and I’m not concerned about population-level events at this point unless something changes,” said Jones. “That’s why we’re continuing to do surveillance and rely a lot on members of the public to report any unusual mortality.”

What precautions people can take

Walsh said that anyone who comes across a sick or dead bird in Nova Scotia should not touch it. They should instead report it to the provincial Natural Resources Department at 1-800-565-2224 and someone from the department wearing protective clothing will pick it up.

There’s a very low risk of humans getting sick from avian flu, but it’s recommended that people don’t handle sick or dead birds as a general precaution.


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The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life




Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.

That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.

What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?

Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.

Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.


Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations

As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.

Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:

  1. Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
  2. Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
  3. Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.

Determining a Fair Payment Plan

Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.

Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.

Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers

When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:

  • Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
  • Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
  • Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
  • Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.


Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.

Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.

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Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home



THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.

The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.

No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.

Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.




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Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister



Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.

Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.

“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”


Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.

“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.

LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.

“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.

The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.

LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.

On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.

“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.

“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.

She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.

Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.

LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.

“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.

–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News



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