The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed a case of bird flu in a wild bird in Co. Limerick.

The department announced this afternoon that it had confirmed avian influenza (AI) subtype H5N8 in the bird in Co. Limerick.

The peregrine falcon was submitted to the Limerick Regional Veterinary Laboratory as part of the department’s wild bird AI surveillance programme.

Further tests are being carried out to determine whether the virus is the same highly pathogenic strain that is currently present in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. The results of these tests will not be available until late next week, the department said.

According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) the H5N8 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, but no human infections with this virus have been reported world-wide and therefore risk to humans is considered to be very low.

The department said it remains in close contact with industry stakeholders and reiterates that strict bio-security measures are necessary to prevent the introduction of avian influenza into poultry and captive bird flocks.

Flock owners are advised to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, and report any disease suspicion to their nearest department veterinary office.

Bird flu in the UK

The risk level of avian influenza establishing in wild birds in the UK has been raised from ‘medium’ to ‘high’ following confirmation of two unrelated cases in England this week and increasing reports of the disease in mainland Europe.

The chief vets from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are urging bird keepers to maintain and strengthen their farm biosecurity measures in order to prevent further outbreaks of avian influenza across those countries.