Public warned not to touch sick or dead wild birds to prevent bird flu spread

Avian influenza found in Black-headed seagulls in Limerick

Health officials have warned people not to come into contact with sick or dead wild birds “in order to prevent the spread of avian influenza in humans”, after the viral disease was detected in Black-headed seagulls in Limerick.

The Department of Public Health Mid-West advised that members of the public should “avoid handling or coming into contact” with any type of ailing or dead birds.

Public Health Mid-West said it was working with officials in the Department of Agriculture in relation to the detection of avian influenza, otherwise known as bird flu, in a series of Black-headed seagulls in Limerick.

“We can confirm there was no known contact by members of the public with these birds Avian influenza infection in humans is very rare, but it can be serious,” it said.


Dr Kenneth Beatty, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, said not handling the birds would “reduce the risk of any possible bird flu infection in humans”.

The Department advised that if you find dead poultry or wild birds, you should notify the nearest Regional Veterinary Office or ring the Avian Influenza Helpline: 01 607 2512 (Outside of Office hours: 01 492 8026).

It also warned people to try to keep their pet animals away from dead birds and “to avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with bird faeces as well as untreated bird feathers (such as those found in the environment) and other bird waste”.

The department also said people should “regularly wash hands with soap and warm water, and use alcohol-based hand gel” to prevent the virus spreading.

Black-headed gulls are smaller than the common gull. They are resident along all Irish coasts, with significant numbers arriving from the Continent in winter. They breed in small numbers on islands in larger lakes in western Ireland, according to Birdwatch Ireland.