The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed avian influenza subtype H5N6 has been found in a wild bird in Co Tipperary. The white-tailed sea eagle was found dead on January 31.
The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSE-HPSC) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) advise that the risk to public health from H5N6 avian influenza is very low and that the disease poses no food safety risk for consumers.
The finding is not unexpected given the detection of highly pathogenic H5N6 in wild birds in multiple locations in Great Britain since the start of January and in other European countries prior to that. Further tests are being carried out to determine whether the virus is the same strain of H5N6. The results of these tests are expected in the next few days.
The Department said the finding indicates an increased risk of introduction of avian influenza into poultry and captive bird flocks, and that strict bio-security measures are necessary to prevent this. This applies to all flocks, irrespective of size. According to the Department, flock owners should feed and water birds inside or under cover where wild birds cannot access the feed or water and poultry should be kept separate from wild birds by putting suitable fencing around the outdoor areas they access.
The Department advises flock owners to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Veterinary Office.
An early warning system is in place with Birdwatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Association of Regional Game Councils regarding surveillance for signs of disease in wild birds.
The Department is continuing to closely monitor and assess the disease situation and is maintaining close contact with counterparts in Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs on the matter.