The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed a a case of “highly pathogenic” avian influenza (HPAI) subtype H5N1 in a wild bird in Oranmore, Co Galway.

The peregrine falcon was submitted to Limerick regional veterinary laboratory as part of the Department’s wild bird AI surveillance programme.

The Department reported that pathogenic H5N1 has been confirmed in wild birds, poultry and captive birds in Britain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, Poland and Denmark since mid-October.

It reminded bird owners that October to April is the high-risk period for introduction of HPAI into Ireland from migratory wild birds returning to overwinter from areas where HPAI is widespread.

Wild birds act as main reservoirs of avian influenza viruses.

Risk to captive birds

The Department said it remains in close contact with industry stakeholders and reiterates that strict biosecurity measures are necessary to prevent the introduction of avian influenza into poultry and captive bird flocks.

It said flock owners should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Veterinary Office.

No impact on humans

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal that although the HPAI H5N1 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, human infection is extremely rare and no human infections with this virus have been reported in Europe this year.