Belfast Telegraph

Authorities confirm first case of avian flu in Northern Ireland for 2018

By Rebecca Black

Avian flu has been detected in a wild bird in Co Antrim, it was confirmed last night.

This is the first positive case of wild bird avian influenza found in Northern Ireland this year.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) confirmed that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) subtype H5N6 had been detected in a buzzard in Co Antrim.

Daera said that while the finding was not unexpected, it should serve as a reminder to all bird keepers to ensure they maintain good levels of biosecurity and remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flock.

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, Robert Huey, said it was important for flock keepers to report early any suspicions of the disease.

"This is the first case of H5N6 in a wild bird in Northern Ireland this season," he said.

"The finding further emphasises the requirement for all bird keepers to remain vigilant and to 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."

"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.

"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.

"I would also encourage bird keepers to subscribe to the Avian Influenza text service by texting 'BIRDS' to 67300."

The Public Health Agency advice 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. Thoroughly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Daera is continuing to monitor the situation closely with counterparts in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

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