Avian Influenza – Don’t Touch!

Public advised not to touch dead or sick wild birds as Avian Influenza A (H5N1) confirmed in the North East
The Department of Public Health HSE North East and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are urging people not to touch sick or dead wild birds, following confirmation of Avian Influenza A (H5N1) in Ulster and North East Leinster.

Dr June Fanning (Head of National Disease Control Centre at the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine) said: “The A (H5N1) strain is highly pathogenic to other birds, however there have been no human cases of infection reported in Ireland/Europe. The risk to public health is therefore considered to be very low.

What should I do if I find a dead wild bird?
It is important to remember that the vast majority of wild bird deaths in the Ireland will not be related to Avian Influenza, based on information from surveillance activities. However, you should follow routine precautions to prevent any other risks to your health, by following the advice below about contact with avian species, bird feathers, and bird waste:
do not pick up or touch sick, dying or dead poultry or wild birds, and keep any pets away from them
avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with bird faeces

avoid untreated bird feathers (such as those found in the environment) and other bird waste
maintain good personal hygiene with regular hand washing with soap and use of alcohol-based hand rubs
If you find dead waterfowl (ducks, geese or swans) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey you should report them to: Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) at 01-4928026.

The Department uses every report to help build a fuller understanding of the pattern of Avian Influenza infections in this country. Whilst all reports are followed up there is not always a need to collect the birds for sampling as the Department uses a blend of epidemiological and laboratory analyses to inform this assessment. .

What if the dead wild bird tests positive for Avian Influenza?
In the event that the dead wild bird tests positive for avian influenza and you have previously reported direct contact with the wild bird, you may be contacted by the Health Protection Team (HPT) at the Department of Public Health, HSE North East. They will check these details with you as part of a risk assessment, and provide any relevant health advice such as arrangements to check on your health, as a precautionary measure. In some circumstances, you may be offered antiviral medicines to prevent Avian Influenza.”

Key links:
www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/en/ §

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