Bird flu protection measures lifted in NI

Bird flu protection measures lifted in NI

Northern Ireland’s Avian Influenza Prevention Zone and ban on poultry gatherings have been lifted from the start of June.

The measures were put in place last October as part of efforts toA protect the poultry sector from bird flu.

They also included compulsory biosecurity requirements, such as cleansing and disinfection, and limiting visitor numbers.

The UK-wide measures were put in place after the disease was found in captive birds and poultry at 180 UK holdings.

Similar restrictions were introduced in the Republic of Ireland last September after detections in wild birds continued throughout the summer.

It was described as the worst ever outbreak of bird flu in these islands, with hundreds of thousands of birds culled – although the the risk to human health was low.

In Northern Ireland, samples from captive birds at the Castle Espie Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre in County Down were found to have the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza strain, H5N1.

A 3km Temporary Control Zone was established, which became a Captive Bird Monitoring Zone before the announcement of the Protection Zone on 17 October 2022.

It came as migratory wild birds were returning to Irish shores, bringing with them a heightened risk of the disease.

The Protection Zone obliged all bird owners to follow strict biosecurity measures.

Those included preventing wild birds having access to the same food and water as poultry or captive birds, and mandatory rules on cleansing and disinfection.