EUROPEAN and UK authorities have warned of high levels of avian influenza in wild gulls.

The European Food Safety Authority’s (Efsa) latest outbreak assessment says that black-headed gulls, which breed inland, could increase the risk for poultry in July-August.

See also: Northern Ireland lifts its Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

However, total outbreaks across the continent have dropped in the first quarter of this year and are both lower than the previous quarter and the same quarter of 2022.

Defra added in its most recent assessment that black-headed gulls were “over-represented” in the European detections, which it said was of note.

In the UK, between mid-March and early May, most wild bird detections (48) were in gulls.

UK cases

In the past month, there have been three avian influenza outbreaks on commercial poultry farms, two on broiler breeder units in Lincolnshire and one in Sussex.

Efsa said: “Abnormal mass mortality in gulls was observed in countries such as France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Italy.

“The risk of infection in poultry may increase in the coming months as gulls spread inland, possibly overlapping with poultry production areas.

“EFSA and EURL recommend that prevention strategies should be implemented in poultry production areas.”