Investigations underway as confirmed case of bird flu found in wild duck

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

Ciaran Moran

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has announced that it has confirmed avian influenza subtype H5N8 in a wild bird in County Wexford. 

The wild duck – a wigeon - was found alive but unable to fly in Wexford Town on December 28.

Avian influenza (AI) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of several species of domestic poultry, as well as pet birds and wild birds.

It is caused by Type A Influenza Virus. Avian influenza is also known as “Bird Flu”.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has confirmed that although the H5N8 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human infections with this virus have been reported world-wide and therefore risk to humans is considered to be very low.

The finding is not unexpected given the detection of highly pathogenic H5N8 in wild birds in Great Britain in the last two weeks, and comes one week after the Minister introduced regulations under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 requiring the compulsory housing of poultry as a result of the increased threat.

Further tests are being carried out to determine whether the virus is the same highly pathogenic strain that is currently present in Great Britain and mainland Europe.

The results of these tests will not be available until the middle of next week.

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The Department 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.

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