AVIAN flu has been detected in seven guillemot birds found dead at Ballyholme beach and within a mile of Bangor harbour among other sites across Northern Ireland over the past month.

Members of the public are advised not to pick up or touch any dead or injured wild birds due to the possibility they may have avian flu. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said birds that had bird flu have been found dead in Bangor, Portaferry, Lough Erne, the North Coast and Rathlin Island since the beginning of June, when bird flu restrictions from the previous outbreak were lifted. Bangor councillor, Ray McKimm has received a number of messages about dead and dying birds being found in Ballyholme Beach.

“Having been in conversation with our CEO and Duty Director, plans are in place to remove the dead birds. I’ve spoken with a local conservationist who has added her expertise and it’s believed that local vets can offer help to dying birds,” said Mr McKimm.

“Due to the current risk of avian flu please take precautions when in proximity to these birds. Professionals will be using full PPE when removing the birds.

“Dog owners please keep your dogs on a lead in the next few days until further clarity is sought on the situation,” added Mr McKimm.

The Public Health Agency has advised that human infections with avian influenza are rare and that the risk to the general public’s health is very low. However, the public has been warned not to pick up or touch any dead or injured wild birds as this can cause the disease to spread to other colonies of seabirds or poultry flocks.

DAERA officials are working closely with public health officials and local councils and have taken proactive measures to improve biosecurity at seabird breeding colonies. Last year saw the largest ever outbreak of avian flu in the UK which led to a number of disease control measures being introduced in Northern Ireland.

If you find dead or injured birds on the shores of Northern Ireland, you should report them to the DAERA helpline on 0300 200 7840.

Do not pick up or touch sick, dying or dead poultry or wild birds, and keep pets away from them. You should also avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with bird faeces and avoid untreated bird feathers and other bird waste.