Notice to the Public re Avian Flu

Date Released: Friday, September 16, 2022

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza HPAI (H5N1) is currently circulating in wild birds, especially in breeding seabirds around Ireland. Over the last three weeks in particular, following intensive surveillance by NPWS, and reports from others, large numbers of dead Gannets have been detected at breeding colonies, at sea and are now being washed up ashore. A number have been tested by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and nearly 60 have so far been confirmed with HPAI; and many multiples of that are likely to have HPAI.

Dead and on occasion sick Gannets or other birds are being reported from many beaches and other areas all along the coastline.

As advised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, members of the public are advised:

  • do not touch sick or dead wild birds;
  • do not to bring sick wild birds home;
  • pets should be kept away from sick and dead wild birds (dogs should be kept on a leash where sick or dead wild birds are present).

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine carries out year round avian influenza surveillance sampling. In areas where HPAI has already been confirmed, it may not be necessary to collect further birds for sampling. The avian influenza virus is very contagious amongst birds and can survive for several weeks in the environment. The faeces of infected birds contains a high level of virus and so the area can remain infective irrespective of whether bird carcasses are removed from an area or not. If is deemed appropriate for public amenity reasons to remove dead birds or to display signage, etc. e.g. on beaches or areas with frequent human footfall, it is a matter for the Local Authority.

Over the past number of months, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has been undertaking intensive monitoring and surveillance with a nationwide network of regional staff, contractors and other stakeholders collecting information on seabirds from key colonies and elsewhere across the island.  The situation is being monitored intensively and any suspected cases reported to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for testing.  NPWS has also been liaising with counterparts in the UK, and has been briefed on outbreaks there and measures being implemented. 

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has responsibly for avian influenza testing in Ireland.  NPWS is already providing expert advice to DAFM in relation to HPAI and cases in wild birds.

NPWS urge members of the public to avoid coming into close contact with any dead/sick seabird.

Please notify DAFM of any suspected avian influenza cases via the Avian Check App or alternatively please call the Avian Influenza Hotline at 01 607 2512 or 01 492 8026 outside of normal office hours.

The provision of seabird ringing licences, under Section 32 of the Wildlife Act, has been suspended due to the risk of furthering the transmission of Avian Influenza amongst Ireland’s seabird population.

Detailed information of Avian Influenza is available on the DAFM and websites. This includes their most recent overview of the situation with regard to HPAI in Ireland – “Avian Influenza Update of 9th September 2022 (National Disease Control Centre Number 10 of 2022)”.