Dr. Shayan Sharif
Dr. Shayan Sharif

Dr. Shayan Sharif, avian immunologist at the Ontario Veterinary College, spoke with CBC News and Global News this week about the future spread of avian influenza.

Sharif acknowledged the virus is spreading to mammals, telling CBC, “Our concern is that this virus at the moment, doesn’t have the capacity for spillover to the human population.”

Sharif told Global News the virus is at the start of a third wave, highly transmissible and spreading to different species across the country, sometimes without any evident symptoms.

Brian Stevens, a wildlife pathologist with the Ontario arm of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at U of G, told CBC the virus has spread to wild geese in the GTA. “We’re definitely seeing a lot of different mammalian carnivores and likely these animals are scavenging on the wild birds as well.”

Sharif recently discussed avian influenza with  The Canadian Press for an article that appeared in several publications including The Globe and Mail, Sharif said he expects to see a “surge” of cases in the coming weeks as the virus hitchhikes with migratory birds back to Canada.

He also spoke with CP24 about the risks avian flu poses to exotic birds at the Toronto Zoo.

Sharif is the associate dean of research and graduate studies at OVC and a professor in the Department of Pathobiology where he researches poultry immunology.