16 August 2018 | Online since 2003

23 March 2018

Bird flu confirmed in wild bird in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

The H5N6 strain of avian influenza has been found in a wild bird, a buzzard, in County Antrim

Bird flu has been confirmed in a wild bird in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the first positive wild bird avian influenza finding in NI this year.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today (23 March) confirmed that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), subtype H5N6 has been found in a wild bird, a buzzard, in County Antrim.

The government said that while this finding is not unexpected, it is a timely reminder for all bird keepers to maintain good levels of biosecurity and to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flock.

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, Robert Huey said: “The finding further emphasises the requirement for all bird keepers to remain vigilant and to critically review their biosecurity measures.

“For example, feeding and watering birds under cover to help reduce the risk of their poultry coming in contact with wild birds. It is important that flock keepers report early any suspicions of disease.

“While the risk of an avian influenza incursion in wild birds is now heightened, the risk to poultry remains low. However, it is essential that we take the necessary steps to protect our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy.

Mr Huey added: “I continue to encourage strongly all bird keepers to register their flocks. This will ensure they receive the latest information from the Department and also allow them to be contacted in an avian disease outbreak enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.”

Advice from the Public Health Agency is that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency has confirmed that Avian Influenza does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is encouraging poultry farmers to remain vigilant in light of today's finding.

UFU Poultry Chairman Martyn Blair said: “We strongly recommend that all poultry keepers, including backyard keepers, review their biosecurity measures and familiarise themselves with DAERA’s guidance on good biosecurity.

“I would encourage producers to practise good farm hygiene and keep birds’ food and water in enclosed areas separate from wild birds wherever possible. Poultry keepers can also sign up to the Avian Influenza text alert service to receive immediate notifications of a disease outbreak.”


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