At least seven cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in recent days across three coastal locations in Northern Ireland (NI) by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

It was announced on Monday that five new cases were confirmed in wild sea birds, with birds from Portrush West Strand and Portballintrea, both in Co Antrim, testing positive for the strain of bird flu.

An unspecified number of sea birds had been annouced as confirmed cases of the strain on Rathlin Island, Co Antrim, on Friday.

“Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 is currently circulating in wild birds, especially breeding seabirds around the UK’s coasts, causing significant mortality in some species,” DAERA said.

“To date, there has been only one confirmed HPAI seabird death in NI,” it added in a statement.

Pathogenic strain

The confirmation comes as a case of the same highly pathogenic strain of the disease was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture in a raven off the coast of Kerry in recent days.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu saw 230,000 birds culled in 16 counties south of the border over 2020 and 2021, according to figures quoted by the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

Tens of thousands of birds were also culled in NI to control the strain.

The public have been warned not to touch dead birds and to alert authorities should one be sighted.

Authorities have also reminded the public that bird-human infections with avian influenza are rare and that the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

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Some 200,000 birds culled due to bird flu