Bird flu case confirmed in Ireland

It has been announced that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed a case of bird flu in a wild bird in Co. Tipperary.

Avian influenza – subtype H5N6 – was detected in a white-tailed sea eagle, which was found dead on January 31.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSE-HPSC) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) advise that the risk to public health from H5N6 avian influenza is very low and that the disease poses no food safety risk for consumers.

This development has not been unexpected, given the detection of highly pathogenic H5N6 in wild birds in multiple locations across Britain since the start of January and in other European countries prior to that, according to the department.

Further tests are being carried out to determine whether the virus is the same strain of H5N6. The results of these tests are expected to become available in the next few days.

However, this detection in Co. Tipperary represents an increased risk of introduction of avian influenza into poultry and captive bird flocks; the department advises that strict bio-security measures are necessary to prevent this.

This applies to all flocks, irrespective of size, it added.

In particular, flock owners are urged to feed and water birds inside or under cover – where wild birds cannot access the feed or water.

It is also advisable to keep poultry separate from wild birds by putting suitable fencing around the outdoor areas they access.

Flock owners should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Veterinary Office.

An early warning system is in place with Birdwatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Association of Regional Game Councils with regard to surveillance for signs of disease in wild birds.

The department continues to closely monitor and assess the disease situation and maintains close contact with its counterparts in DAERA on the matter, a statement on the matter concluded.