Avian flu warning as cases rise across the UK

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Three cream chickens and one black and white chickenPeople are asked not to handle sick or dead birds on the Isle of Man after a surge in avian influenza cases in the UK and Northern Ireland.

While no cases have been reported on Island, the risk level is considered the same as the UK, where tens of thousands of farmed birds have had to be culled in recent weeks.

The disease, which has no links to COVID-19, is largely spread by infected wild birds coming into contact with kept birds.

The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) strongly advises that keepers minimise the people in contact with their birds and regularly disinfect equipment and boots.

It also recommends people house birds where possible in a way that reduces contact with wild birds, which should be kept away from all feed, water and bedding.

The Island’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Amy Beckett, said:

'While there are no confirmed cases on the Island we are asking people to remain vigilant and take extra precautions.

'Avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to human health is very low.'

The UK Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenza also poses a very low food safety risk for consumers and properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, remain safe to eat.

There are more than 20 clinical signs indicating that a bird could be suffering with avian influenza including lethargy, unresponsiveness and a loss of balance.

More information can be found on the DEFA website and anyone who suspects a case, or has in their possession a bird or carcase that they suspect has the disease, should call the Animal Heath Team on +44 1624 685844.

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