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Animal diseases

Epizootic diseases spread very quickly. Two of these diseases are Avian Influenza and Foot and Mouth disease. These two diseases, and others, are notifiable in Northern Ireland. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has a generic contingency plan for dealing with epizootic disease – use the information below to protect yourself or your farm.

Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza is a disease of birds. There are both high pathogenic (HPAI) and low pathogenic (LPAI) forms, and many strains.

  • the Departments of Health (DHSSPS) and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) have drawn up public health advice to help protect you if you are going to or returning from a bird flu-affected area.
  • Bird flu advice - (PDF 125 KB)
  • Help with PDF files

DARD advice

DARD advises the following steps if you find a dead bird:

If you find one or more gulls, waders, ducks, geese and swans (webbed feet, long legs or long neck) you should contact DARD on:

  • 0300 200 7840

You will be asked for details of the finding and the location.

If you find any other single dead birds, including garden birds, then you do not need to call DARD.

If you find five or more dead birds of any species, other than swans, gulls, waders, ducks and geese, in the same place, you should contact DARD on:

  • 0300 200 7840

You can find more advice about dead birds at the following link to the DARD website.

You can also visit nidirect's 'Birds' page in the Leisure, home and community section.

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is an acute infectious disease, which causes fever, followed by the development of vesicles (blisters) – chiefly in the mouth and on the feet.

Among farm stock, the following animals are susceptible to FMD:

  • cattle
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • goats
  • llamas
  • alpacas

Some wild animals such as hedgehogs, coypu, and any wild cloven-footed animals such as deer and zoo animals (including elephants) can also contract it.

The disease is not usually fatal in adult animals, although many young animals may die. However, it causes severe pain and distress, especially in cattle. And, animals may be left permanently lame and the productivity of recovered animals may be reduced.

Anyone suspecting FMD must immediately inform their local Divisional Veterinary Office or their Private Veterinary Practice (PVP).

For other FMD related queries please contact the DARD Helpline on:

Animal diseases and government planning

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provides information on its website about other animal diseases under the following categories:

More useful links