Dr. Shayan Sharif

Avian immunologist Dr. Shayan Sharif has spoken to several national media outlets about a strain of H5N1 avian flu that continues to spread across North America infecting poultry farms, wild birds and wildlife. 

In an interview with CBC Radio’s The Current, Sharif called the outbreak “unprecedented” saying it’s spreading faster and infecting more migratory bird than previous avian flu strains.

Speaking with The Globe and Mail, Sharif noted that one of the concerns about the virulent strain of H5N1 is that as it spreads, it could mutate.

“The more chance they have for circulation in a population, the more chance they have to exchange their genetic material and mutate,” he said. 

Sharif also spoke to CTV Kitchener to offer advice about whether to remove bird feeders to discourage birds of different species from congregating. 

Sharif has conducted several media interviews since the new strain arrived in Canada earlier this spring, sharing his expertise in avian influenza.

A professor in the Department of Pathobiology in the Ontario Veterinary College, Sharif specializes in the immune systems of chickens, including their responses to the avian influenza virus. He is also the associate dean of research and graduate studies.