A suspected case of avian influenza is being investigated on the island after a number of kept geese were found dead by their keeper.

DEFA is actively responding and the island’s Chief Veterinary Officer’s team attended the site on Friday. Samples have been taken and sent for analysis in the UK. The UK health security agency has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to human health is very low. 

This is the first suspected case of avian influenza on island this winter which has required further investigation and sampling. However, the UK is currently facing its largest ever outbreak of the H5N1 virus, which has led to tens of thousands of farmed birds being culled since November.

Advice to the Public

People are asked not to handle any sick or dead birds and the department strongly advises that keepers regularly disinfect equipment and boots. DEFA 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.

Signs

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is the more serious type. It is often fatal in birds. The main clinical signs of HPAI in birds (which can include any or a combination of the following) are:

  • sudden and rapid increase in the number of birds found dead
  • several birds affected in the same shed or air space
  • swollen head
  • closed and excessively watery eyes
  • lethargy and depression
  • recumbency and unresponsiveness
  • incoordination and loss of balance
  • head and body tremoring
  • drooping of the wings and/or dragging of legs
  • twisting of the head and neck
  • swelling and blue discolouration of comb and wattles
  • haemorrhages on shanks of the legs and under the skin of the neck
  • loss of appetite or marked decrease in feed consumption
  • sudden increase or decrease in water consumption
  • respiratory distress such as gaping (mouth breathing), nasal snicking (coughing sound), sneezing, gurgling or rattling
  • fever or noticeable increase in body temperature
  • discoloured or loose watery droppings
  • cessation or marked reduction in egg production

More information can be found on the DEFA website https://www.gov.im/birdflu and anyone who suspects a case, or has in their possession a bird or carcase that they suspect has the disease, should contact the Animal Heath Team by emailing agriculture@gov.im or calling 685844.

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