Suspected bird flu identified at NI duck farm

Suspected bird flu identified at NI duck farm

Suspected bird flu identified at NI duck farm

Disease control measures have been initiated following suspicion of notifiable Avian Influenza (AI), at a commercial duck premises in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone.

Chief Veterinary Office Dr Robert Huey took the decision based on number of factors including the clinical signs, preliminary results provided by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the recent confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in commercial flocks in County Monaghan.

Dr Huey said: “A suspect case of notifiable Avian Influenza (AI) was reported to the Department on Tuesday 30 November and initial results suggest the presence of notifiable AI.  That, alongside the recently confirmed cases in County Monaghan as well as a number of confirmed cases in wild birds across Northern Ireland, means that it is vital we act swiftly to try and limit the spread of any potential disease.

“Therefore, as a precautionary measure, appropriate disease control measures have been put in place, including the humane culling of the affected ducks (27,000) and the introduction of Temporary Control Zones (TCZ) to mitigate for onward disease spread.

“Samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory to confirm strain and pathogenicity.  Should highly pathogenic AI be confirmed, these TCZs will be revoked and a 3 kilometre Protection Zone (PZ) and 10 kilometre Surveillance Zone (SZ) established.”

Dr Huey warned flock keepers to urgently take steps to protect their birds: “Given this suspected incursion of notifiable AI, we cannot afford to be complacent

“I am speaking to those who have half a dozen birds in the garden, right up to those commercial flock keepers with thousands of birds – ACT NOW. You must adhere to all biosecurity measures to protect your flock. I am extremely concerned about the serious risk of spread and this is a very worrying development.”

On December 1 a temporary control zone was been established in Northern Ireland following a third outbreak of Avian Influenza in Co Monaghan.

The bird flu outbreak means a 3km and 10km Disease Control Zone has been established across the border in a bid to mitigate the risk of disease spreading.

Last month an avian housing order was introduced here and avian flu was also discovered in two wild birds at the Waterworks in Belfast. And a previous outbreak in Co Monaghan was detected in a commercially-housed turkey flock last month.

Dr Huey said Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs officials would be liaising with colleagues in the Republic.”

He added: “The control zone means strict biosecurity measures are put in place, including the recording of movements of poultry holdings and the need for licensing if any birds are required to be moved into or out of the zone.

“You should contact the movement licensing centre – email – for a specific licence application form, at least 48 hours in advance of any planned move.”

An AIPZ has been in place across Great Britain since 3 November, with the virus “primarily a disease of birds” and posing a “very low” risk to the public.

In January, a cull of more than 100,000 birds took place following an outbreak of the avian flu in a poultry flock in Clough, Co Down.