Avian influenza detected in wild bird in Northern Ireland

Date published: 02 February 2017

A wild swan found in County Londonderry near Lough Beg has tested positive for H5N8 avian influenza.


The swan was reported to DAERA by a member of the public as part of DAERA's Avian dead wild bird surveillance programme, and was submitted for testing at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute where initial testing has indicated avian influenza, sub-type H5N8.  

This finding follows the extension of a Prevention Zone in Northern Ireland until 16 March 2017 which requires all keepers of poultry and other captive birds to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate and protect them from wild birds

The Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey said: “This finding is not unexpected and follows calls for bird keepers to be more vigilant for signs of the disease. It is possible that more cases will be confirmed.

“This finding serves to remind us all of the risk of infection. The Prevention Zone and temporary suspension on gatherings of poultry remain in place. It is also important that bird keepers in Northern Ireland remain vigilant and where necessary improve their biosecurity. Even when birds are housed there is still a risk of infection and biosecurity should not be compromised. Clothing and equipment should be disinfected, the movement of poultry should be reduced and contact between poultry and wild birds should be minimised.”

Mr Huey added: “Expert advice remains that consumers should not be concerned about eating eggs or poultry and the threat to public health from the virus is very low.

“Poultry and other bird keepers are reminded that anyone who has any poultry or any other captive birds must be registered with the Department.”

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 9.00am to 5.00pm).

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

Flock keepers are asked to keep up to date on the situation via the DAERA website

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Prevention Zone remains in place across Northern Ireland. The zone requires the immediate and compulsory housing of domestic chickens, hens, turkeys and ducks, or when this is not practical, their complete separation from contact with wild birds. For farmed geese, gamebirds, and other captive birds, keepers should take practical steps to keep these birds separate from wild birds. The zone also means extra biosecurity measures for all poultry and captive birds to protect them from the risk from wild birds. Further details including frequently asked questions can be found on the DAERA website.
  2. Guidance to help bird keepers find practical ways of minimising contact with wild birds is available in the leaflet “Preparing for Avian Influenza – Separating flocks from Wild Birds’. This is available on the DAERA website
  3. There continues to be a ban on gatherings of some species of birds (livestock fairs, auctions, shows or other events) and this applies to those attending with bird species which are considered at higher risk of spreading avian influenza, including all poultry and game bird species, ducks, geese and swans. Gatherings of pigeons, aviary birds and birds of prey can continue to take place.
  4. Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must report it to their local Divisional Veterinary Office. Contact details can be found on the DAERA website.
  5. All poultry and other birds must be registered with DAERA. The application form is available from the DAERA website.
  6. More information about Avian Influenza - including biosecurity guidance - is available from the DAERA website
  7. Under the Prevention Zone, birds and eggs are still considered free range provided they meet all other requirements. Declaring a Prevention Zone means birds can be housed for up to 12 weeks and still maintain their free range status.
  8. Follow us on Twitter @daera_ni.
  9. All media enquiries to DAERA Press Office, pressoffice.group@daera-ni.gov.uk or tel: 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

Share this page

Back to top