A case of bird flu has been confirmed at a swan rescue centre in Worcestershire, England.
Wild birds migrating to the UK from mainland Europe during the winter months can carry the disease and this can lead to cases in poultry and captive birds.
Disease control zones have been put in place around the infected site to limit the risk of the disease spreading.
Northern Ireland’s chief veterinary officer (CVO) Dr Robert Huey has issued a warning to all poultry farmers and pet bird keepers following confirmation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1.
Huey said: “This is the time to critically review your biosecurity arrangements to reduce the risk of transmission of avian influenza to poultry or other captive birds,” he said.
He outlined some simple measures that all poultry keepers should take to protect their birds against the threat of avian flu.
These apply to people running a large commercial farm, keeping a few hens in their back garden and those rearing game birds.
Disease control zones have been put in place around the infected site to limit the risk of the disease spreading
Dr Huey added: “This first avian influenza case of the 2021-22 season in the UK serves as a timely reminder and we can be sure that it is only a matter of time before it reaches our shores.
“An outbreak of avian influenza in a small backyard flock could impose the same restrictions on movements of birds as if it was found on a commercial farm.
“I would also encourage birdkeepers [in NI] to subscribe to the Avian Influenza text service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300.
“If you are concerned in any way about the health of your birds or if you notice any behaviours that are not normal for your birds please report it immediately to your local DAERA direct office on 0300 200 7840.
“DAERA encourages all birdkeepers to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of the disease which can be found on the DAERA webpage,” he said.