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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

DAERA confirms positive test results for Avian Influenza in wild seabirds on Rathlin Island

“It's very unusual to see seabirds coming ashore in Church Bay, so finding several obviously sick Common Guillemots on the beaches this week was a bad sign, now confirmed as bird flu. Not unexpected as we'd already been seeing some sick and dead birds in the breeding colony.” – Rathlin Stickybeak (All images: @_stickybeak)

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has confirmed positive results for Avian Influenza following tests on birds from Rathlin Island.

The Public Health Agency has advised that human infections with Avian Influenza are rare as the disease is primarily one of birds; and that the risk to the general public’s health is very low. However it is vital that the public do not to pick up or touch any dead or injured wild birds as this can cause the disease to spread to other colonies of seabirds or poultry flocks.

With the bank holiday weekend approaching and our coastal areas becoming busier over the summer months, we are reminding the general public of the following advice:

  1. Do not pick up or touch sick, dying or dead birds, and keep pets away from them.

  2. Dead wild birds should be reported to the DAERA helpline 0300 200 7840, however not all will be collected for surveillance.

  3. An Avian Influenza Hub with further advice can be found on the DAERA website.

  4. Where dead wild birds are not required for surveillance purposes, it is the landowner’s responsibility to safely dispose of the carcasses.

The Department is working closely with all stakeholders including the Public Health Agency and local councils in relation to this matter and has taken proactive measures to improve biosecurity at seabird breeding colonies.

Following these confirmations in wild birds the Department is also stressing the need for all flock keepers to take action to improve biosecurity in order to prevent any incursion of the disease into our poultry flock. Officials will continue to work closely with poultry keepers and the wider industry as we seek to mitigate the risk of an AI incursion in Northern Ireland.

DAERA encourages all bird keepers (however small) to register their flocks so that they can be communicated with directly with future communications and updates. Registration is straightforward by contacting your local DAERA Direct office or online via the DAERA website.

Flock keepers can also sign up to the text alert service simply by texting 'BIRDS' to 67300 to receive immediate notification of any important disease information which will help to protect flocks at the earliest opportunity.

Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must, by law, report it to their local DAERA Direct Office.

Since the beginning of June 2022, there have been positive avian influenza results obtained from dead wild birds submitted from three locations in Northern Ireland: Bangor; Lough Erne and Rathlin Island.


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