Bird keepers are being encouraged to do everything they can to stop their animals coming into contact with wild birds.

It comes after the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) has had a number of reports of dead birds on the beaches in the south and west of the island.

The department said: ‘We suspect high pathogenic avian influenza.'

More than 20 dead birds, mainly guillemots, have been collected by DEFA along the south and west coast.

The Isle of Man is home to thousands of seabirds including guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and shags.

Officers have collected the birds and samples have been taken, with the results likely to take about a week to come back,

The bird flu section of the Government website will be updated with the test results next week.

Whilst the risk to human health is currently low, DEFA is asking the public not to touch any wild dead or visibly sick birds.

The Government added: ‘No zones or restrictions have been put in place but we are urging anyone that keeps birds to practice good biosecurity and try to reduce any contact the kept birds may have with wild birds.

‘Although it currently only seems to be affecting seabirds, these birds obviously come into contact with inland birds and may pass the virus on.’

‘Officers within DEFA have been working actively to collect the dead birds that have been reported.

‘Please note not all dead birds will be tested or collected.’

Clare Barber, Minister for DEFA, said: ‘We are aware of a significant number of wild sea bird deaths in several locations and are carrying out regular surveillance.’

If you find five or more dead birds DEFA are encouraging people to report it to the animal health team, either by email on [email protected] or telephone 01624 685844.