A white-tailed sea eagle has tested positive for avian influenza (H5N1) in Co Kerry.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed the case in the rare bird near Tarbert.

The bird has been submitted to the veterinary laboratory in Limerick as part of the department’s wild bird avian influenza surveillance programme.

It is the same highly pathogenic strain already been detected last week in a peregrine falcon in Co Galway.

Wild birds in Co Donegal and Co Offaly have also been confirmed positive for H5N1 on Thursday, including both mute swans and whooper swans and wild geese.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said: “It is very unfortunate that this case has been detected in such a rare bird

“It is important that we remain vigilant, and I would also urge that flock owners should also be watchful.

“We should do everything that we can to ensure that potentially-infected wild birds do not have contact with domestic flocks.”

'Very concerning'

Minister of State for Heritage at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan added: “These confirmations of avian influenza are very concerning.

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“There is the immediate issue of the direct impacts on birds generally, and also, of course, there may be issues arising that impact on birds of conservation concern, including those being re-introduced to the wild.

“I would ask members of the public not to handle any dead birds.”

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has said that although the H5N1 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human infections with this virus have been reported worldwide and therefore consider the risk to humans to be very low.

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