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Wild swan tests positive for bird flu in Northern Ireland

By Claire Williamson

A wild swan in Northern Ireland has tested positive for bird flu.

The avian influenza strain H5N8 was discovered in the dead swan near Lough Beg in County Londonderry.

The swan was reported by a member of the public as part of the Department of Agriculture's dead wild bird surveillance programme and was submitted for testing.

The department has said the threat to public health is very low.

Chief veterinary officer, Robert Huey said the finding was not "unexpected" and called for bird keepers to be more vigilant for signs of the disease.

He said: "It is possible that more cases will be confirmed.

“This finding serves to remind us all of the risk of infection. The prevention zone and temporary suspension on gatherings of poultry remain in place. It is also important that bird keepers in Northern Ireland remain vigilant and where necessary improve their biosecurity.

"Even when birds are housed there is still a risk of infection and biosecurity should not be compromised. Clothing and equipment should be disinfected, the movement of poultry should be reduced and contact between poultry and wild birds should be minimised.”

Mr Huey added: “Expert advice remains that consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry and the threat to public health from the virus is very low.

“Poultry and other bird keepers are reminded that anyone who has any poultry or any other captive birds must be registered with the Department.”

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, to the DAERA helpline on 0300 200 7840, Mon-Fri 9.00am to 5.00pm.

If you are concerned about the health of your birds you should seek advice from your veterinary surgeon.  If you suspect that your birds are showing signs of the disease you should immediately report it to your nearest Department Veterinary Office.

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