Two further suspect cases of notifiable avian influenza have been identified in a commercial poultry flock near Markethill in County Armagh and a commercial duck flock in Coagh, County Tyrone.
The news follows confirmation from the National Reference Laboratory that both previous suspect cases in Aughnacloy and Broughshane were positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1.
As a precautionary measure following initial laboratory results, appropriate disease control measures have been introduced including the humane culling of the affected birds (approx. 14,000 in Armagh and 22,000 in Coagh) and the introduction of two Temporary Control Zones (TCZs), to mitigate for onward disease spread. Samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory to confirm strain and pathogenicity. Should HPAI be confirmed, these TCZs will be revoked and a 3 km Protection Zone (PZ) and 10 km Surveillance Zone (SZ) established around the infected premises
Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Robert Huey said: “Unfortunately notifiable avian influenza is strongly suspected in two further commercial flocks in Northern Ireland. This is now not only the largest ever outbreak of HPAI in the UK, but also in Northern Ireland and we must do all we can to protect our flocks, protect our businesses and protect the economy.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is that flock keepers reassess all of their biosecurity measures immediately. Are they stringent enough? Are you reviewing them EVERY day? What else can you do to prevent an incursion?
“You can also complete our biosecurity checklist at http://daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/daera-ai-biosecurity-self-assessment
“Do it today, do not wait.”
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said: “We are at a critical point in the management of this outbreak. This strain of H5N1 spreads quickly and could wipe out an entire flock in a matter of days. I am urging all bird keepers to proactively assess your current biosecurity measures and re-double your efforts to keep this disease out of your flocks.
“Keep your flock housed, change your boots, wash your hands, wear disposable boiler suits, keep surrounding areas clean and only have essential vehicles coming on site – simple, repetitive steps will help protect your flock from Avian Flu.
“We have also received confirmation from the National Reference Lab that the cases in the commercial duck farm in Auchnacloy and the backyard flock keeper in Broughshane were both positive for HPAI H5N1. We cannot afford to be complacent and must act now to protect our flocks.”
Full details of the scope and measures required within both TCZs are included in the declaration, which will be published imminently online and available to view on the DAERA webpage at the following link:
Notes to editors:
- Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must, by law, report it to their local DAERA Direct Office.
- DAERA’s primary function is the control of AI in poultry or captive bird flocks, it is not involved in control of the disease in wild species.
- The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. The Food Standards Agency has also advised, in avian influenza incursions of this type, that there is a very low risk to public health from the consumption of properly cooked poultry meat or eggs provided appropriate hygiene measures are followed.
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