Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

Department confirms highly pathogenic strain of 'bird flu' in Ireland

Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

It has been confirmed by the Department of Agriculture that the avian influenza subtype H5N8 detected in the wild bird found in County Wexford on December 28, is the highly pathogenic strain that has previously been confirmed in the UK and mainland Europe. 

The bird, a widgeon, was found alive but unable to fly in Wexford town. This is the only case detected in Ireland so far.

As previously advised, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has confirmed that the risk to humans is considered to be 'very low'.

The Department says it is continuing to monitor the situation and notes the deteriorating weather forecast for continental Europe this week.

The Department reiterates once again the requirement to confine poultry and other birds, and to apply strict bio-security measures to prevent the introduction of avian influenza. 

Poultry flock owners should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Veterinary Office.

There are many strains of the viruses and these can be classified into two categories according to the severity of disease they produce in poultry.

These include low pathogenic, which typically causes little or no clinical signs in birds, and highly pathogenic, which can cause severe clinical signs and often high mortality rates in birds.

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Members of the public have been asked to report incidents of multiple wild birds found dead in the same location at the same time to the DAFM Avian Influenza helpline on 0761064403 or to a local Regional Veterinary Office.

The signs that farmers and members of the public should look out for in birds include lethargy, loss of appetite and excessive thirst, swollen head, blue discolouration of combs, wattles, neck and throat. It can also cause respiratory distress such as gaping beak, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling, diarrhoea, reduced/no eggs laid.

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