The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has confirmed that a wild greylag goose, found in Lurgan Park, Co Armagh, has tested positive for H5N6 Avian Influenza.
The goose was reported to DAERA as part of its dead wild bird surveillance programme, and was submitted for testing at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), where initial testing has indicated avian influenza, sub-type H5N6. This is the same strain as confirmed in a wild buzzard in Co Antrim in March this year.
The Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Robert Huey, said this is the second case of H5N6 in a wild bird in Northern Ireland this season and is not unexpected given that avian influenza continues to circulate in wild birds across Europe.
He added: “It further emphasises the requirement for all bird keepers to remain vigilant and to critically 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. It is important that flock keepers report early any suspicions of disease.
“While the risk of an avian influenza incursion in wild birds remains, the risk to poultry is 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 simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300”
Advice from the Public Health Agency is that the risk to public health from the virus is very low, however the general public is advised to take appropriate biosecurity precautions before touching or picking up birds that are dead, or appear to be sick or dying. Further advice can be found on the DAERA website.
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.
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 9am to 5pm).
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.