A wild swan found at Lough Beg outside Bellaghy has tested positive for H5N8 avian influenza - believed to be the first case of bird flu in Northern Ireland.
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 at: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/avian-influenza-ai.