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Bird Flu

HSE urges public to avoid handling 'sick and dead birds' due to risk posed by bird flu

No cases of bird flu infection caused illness have been observed in the EU, but they have been recorded in other countries.

THE HSE IS urging the public to avoid handling sick and dead birds as outbreaks of bird flu have become more common since 2020.

Dr Éamonn O’ Moore, director of the HSE’s National Health Protection Service, said that there have been, of late, larger outbreaks of bird flu than previously experienced in Europe since 2020. 

O’ Moore said that to date no cases of “bird flu virus infection caused illness” have been observed in the EU, but they have been recorded in other countries. 

“People at risk are mainly those in direct contact/handling diseased birds or poultry, or their carcasses (e.g. farmers, veterinarians and labourers involved in the culling and rendering), as well as those exposed to contaminated environments,” he added. 

In light of the rise in bird flu outbreaks, O’Moore is urging people not to pick up or touch sick or dead birds as they begin to spend more time outdoors over the summer months, and to keep their pets away from them. 

“People should also avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with bird faeces and should not handle bird feathers they find in the wild. It is always best practice in general, to regularly wash hands with soap and water or to clean your hands with alcohol-based hand gel when out in the wild,” he advised. 

 Anyone who comes across dead or sick wild birds can notify the Department of Agriculture via the Avian Check App or call the Avian Influenza Helpline Number (076) 1064403 or 1850 2000456 (outside of normal office hours).

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