New restrictions after confirmed cases of avian flu in Hillsborough

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is advising the public to stay away from birds after several confirmed cases of bird flu were identified in the district.

Hillsborough Forest Park

It comes after the Department of Agriculture and Environmental and Rural Affairs (DAERA) made the council aware of the presence of Avian Influenza in wild birds in Hillsborough Forest Park and Monlough Lake near Carryduff.

Meanwhile, DEARA also said that Avian Influenza H5N1 had already been confirmed in six wild birds across the country, with additional cases in the Republic of Ireland.

It’s understood that the strain is highly pathogenic to other birds, but the risk to human health is considered “very low”, however, the Public Health Agency said it was vital that people did not touch sick live birds or bird carcasses.

In a statement put out this afternoon, a spokesperson from the council said: “New signage has been implemented at council facilities to advise people to keep away from the birds, to maintain good hand hygiene and follow all the health and safety advice.

“Additional council staff will be onsite at Hillsborough Forest Park over the weekend.

“Any affected birds will be removed safely as quickly as possible.

“We continue to monitor the situation and are working in partnership with the DAERA, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and other relevant authorities.”

A DAERA spokesperson added: “DAERA is aware that there have been reports of dead and sick wild birds in the Belfast area. To date in this current outbreak, Avian Influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in six wild birds in Northern Ireland (NI).

“These birds were retrieved from Belfast Waterworks, the Harbour Estate in Belfast and at Monlough Lake near Carryduff.

“The Public Health Agency has issued advice that the public should not touch dead or sick birds. You can report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, to the DAERA helpline Tel: 0300 200 7840 during office hours.  Outside office hours, please follow the instructions provided on the Helpline message.

“Sick birds are the responsibility of the landowner and members of the public should contact whoever owns the land the birds are found on.

“The Public Health Agency has advised that human infections with avian influenza are rare as it is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.”