Dead swan in County Derry had bird flu

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has confirmed that a wild swan found dead at Lough Beg, in County Derry has tested positive for avian influenza.

Swan (File picture  by  Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay)
Swan (File picture by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay)

Chief Veterinary Officer for NI, Dr Robert Huey said: “I can confirm that a case of avian influenza has been detected in a wild bird found at Lough Beg and that preliminary results from AFBI indicate H5N8. Further testing of the mute swan is being undertaken at AFBI and samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory for further analysis.

“This detection in Northern Ireland is not surprising as there have been two recent confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry in Great Britain. There have also been three confirmed cases of H5N8 in wild birds across England and a falcon in County Limerick has tested positive in recent days. In addition the risk of an avian influenza incursion to the UK increases over the winter months from migrating wild birds.”

Dr Huey said that in response to these recent findings in England an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across Britain.

“The risk level in Northern Ireland to poultry is assessed as moderate with biosecurity levels on individual sites a crucial mitigation factor,” he said, adding:

“Veterinary officials continue to monitor the situation across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and in consultation with stakeholders will determine the necessary next steps to mitigate for an avian influenza incursion in poultry here.”

Dr Huey has reminded bird owners of the need to continue to deploy effective biosecurity measures.

He added: “I would re-emphasise the need for all keepers of poultry, including game birds and pet birds, to take action now and carefully consider and improve biosecurity to reduce the risk of transmission of disease to their flocks.