Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza confirmed in Cheshire

Date published: 06 November 2020

Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Dr Robert Huey has issued a further warning to all poultry farmers and pet bird keepers following confirmation that the strain of Avian Influenza found in Cheshire, is highly pathogenic.

Chief Veterinary Officer for NI, Mr Robert Huey, has advised bird keepers to prepare for the threat of Avian flu this winter and to sign up to DAERA's new text alert service by texting the word 'BIRDS' to 67300.

The strain is related to the virus currently circulating in Europe but is unrelated to the H5N2 strain confirmed in Kent.

The CVO, Dr Robert Huey, said: “Following the confirmation that the case of Avian Influenza in Cheshire is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI H5N8), I am urging all poultry keepers to take action now to keep your birds safe and reduce the risk of disease over the high risk winter period.  Please continue to adopt good biosecurity measures on your premises and review business continuity plans.

“Remain alert for any signs of disease.  This particular strain is not presenting with the usual signs and symptoms you would expect from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. I would encourage all bird keepers to please report it immediately if you are concerned about the health of your birds in any way. If you notice anything out of the ordinary contact your local DAERA Direct Office on 0300 200 7840.

“I would like to remind all bird keepers of the need to register your flocks. This enables the Department to contact you in the event of an outbreak of avian disease, giving you the earliest opportunity to protect your flocks. I would also encourage bird keepers to subscribe to the Avian Influenza text service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300. Subscribing means you will receive any important disease information immediately.” 

The Department is encouraging all poultry keepers to remain vigilant as we enter this high risk period.  Critically review your biosecurity arrangements. Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of the disease which can be found on the DAERA webpage at Avian Influenza Clinical Signs.  If you notice any behaviours that are not normal for your birds please contact DAERA immediately.  Early reporting is critical.

If Avian Influenza were to enter any flock, including backyard or hobby flocks, it would have a devastating effect on the poultry industry and would significantly impact international trade.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of bird flu you must report it immediately by calling the DAERA Helpline on 0300 2007840.  Failure to do so is an offence.             
  2. An avian influenza leaflet detailing biosecurity advice can be downloaded at DAERA-NI.GOV.UK  This will also provide simple measures flock keepers can take to protect their birds against the threat of avian influenza including:
    • Keeping the area where birds live clean and tidy, controlling rats and mice and regularly disinfecting any hard surfaces
    • Cleaning footwear before and after visits
    • Placing birds’ feed and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and removing any spilled feed regularly
    • Putting fencing around outdoor areas where birds are allowed and limiting their access to ponds or areas visited by wild waterfowl
    • Where possible, avoid keeping ducks and geese with other poultry species.
  3. If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey please report them to DAERA on 0300 200 7840.
  4. For more advice and up to date information, please follow DAERA’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
  5. All poultry and other birds must be registered with DAERA. The application form is available at www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/bird-registration-form
  6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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