Avian Flu Confirmed in Dead Birds

Dead seabirds recently found on beaches around the island have tested positive for the HPAI H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza, the same strain as the recent outbreaks in seabirds in Scotland.

More than 50 carcasses have been collected along the west coast since the first discovery last week.

The risk to the general public from this virus remains low and well-cooked eggs and poultry continue to be safe to eat, but the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture ask the public to take reasonable measures to reduce the virus spreading through our bird colonies.

Because the virus has been found in wild seabirds, not kept or farmed birds, no restriction zones or other measures are being introduced. However, the general public are strongly advise:

  • Do not touch sick or dead birds
  • Owners are asked to keep dogs away from any sick or dead birds
  • Fisherman, leisure swimmers, kayakers and other water users are asked to keep a respectful distance from all wild birds where possible
  • Bird keepers should continue to practice good biosecurity and try to keep their birds away from wild birds

The dead birds, which are mainly guillemots, have been found at Fleshwick, Spaldrick, Niarbyl and Kirk Michael, with further reports in Port Erin and near the Calf of Man.

Last month bird flu was confirmed at some of the UK’s most important seabird colonies at Bass Rock in Scotland, the Farne Islands in northeast England, and the Norfolk coast, with the unprecedented outbreak having a hugely negative effect on bird numbers.

DEFA Minister Clare Barber said: ‘Although we currently have no cases of bird flu in kept birds on the island, the risk and impact of bird flu on our wild colonies should not be underestimated. We’re asking the public to please take reasonable precautions to help reduce the spread – by not touching or moving any sick or dead birds and keeping their distance from nesting or roosting sites. Keepers of domestic or farm birds are asked to continue following the good hygiene standards from our outbreak earlier in the year.’

Anyone who finds two or more large waterfowl, such as swans or geese, together and recently dead, or six or more smaller birds should contact Animal Health on +44 1624 685844 or by emailing agriculture@gov.im and provide as much detail as possible.