There is major concern at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine after it confirmed that wild birds in Donegal have been confirmed with Avian Influenza HPAI H5N1.
A number of different birds across the country were confirmed with the condition yesterday.
It is understood the effected birds in Donegal were whooper swans nd wild geese although their location has not been confirmed.
A white-tailed sea eagle also tested positive near Tarbert, County Kerry.
The detections were made as part of the Department’s wild bird Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance programme.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD said:
“It is very unfortunate that this case has been detected in such a rare bird, but I would like to commend the work of my Department’s wild bird AI Surveillance programme. It is important that we remain vigilant, and I would also urge that flock owners should also be watchful. We should do everything that we can to ensure that potentially-infected wild birds do not have contact with domestic flocks.”
Minister of State for Heritage at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD, said these confirmations of Avian Influenza are very concerning.
He said “There is the immediate issue of the direct impacts on birds generally, and also, of course, there may be issues arising that impact on birds of conservation concern, including those being re-introduced to the wild under projects such as the flagship White-Tailed Sea Eagle Re-Introduction Project.
“The NPWS will continue to support Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine colleagues in monitoring and addressing this evolving situation. In the meantime, I would ask members of the public not to handle any dead birds. Instead, they should contact local Department of Agriculture or NPWS offices.”
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has confirmed that although the H5N1 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human infections with this virus have been reported world-wide and therefore consider the risk to humans to be very low. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs are safe to eat.
These additional findings of H5N1 in wild birds highlights the risk of introduction of avian influenza to the poultry sector. The Department has been liaising closely with colleagues from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The Department also 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 should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Veterinary Office.