Poots warns bird flu threat hasn’t gone away

Poots warns bird flu threat hasn’t gone away

Edwin Poots has warned that the threat of a further bird flu outbreak here is still high despite the fact all Avian Influenza Surveillance Zones in Northern Ireland have now been lifted.

Speaking ahead of the the lifting of the final two Surveillance Zones  on Saturday, the Minister for Agriculture said the continued presence of infected migratory wild birds was still a real concern when it came to managing the disease.

He added: “Te risk of Avian Influenza has not disappeared and we are certainly not out of the woods yet.

“I would like to thank the poultry industry for their incredible work so far in keeping the disease under control. There is no doubt that the efforts you have made have been vital in stopping the spread of the virus from those premises that were unfortunately affected and prevented any further incursions to date. However, it is now vital that complacency does not set in. Excellent biosecurity 24/7 remains the most effective way to protect individual flocks and our poultry industry from this deadly virus.

“The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) for the whole of Northern Ireland remains in place, which means it is still a legal requirement for all poultry and other captive birds to be housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds. As part of the AIPZ, bird keepers must follow strict biosecurity measures in order to prevent any further incursions.”

There have been five confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 in Northern Ireland, bringing the total number of confirmed cases across the United Kingdom to 81. There are currently six confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland, of which the disease control zones of four extended into Northern Ireland.

Belfast Zoo introduced new measures to prevent the spread of bird flu among its flocks, including moving some species into enclosed areas.

The zoo said its free-roaming bird species had been moved into enclosed habitats but that all birds could still be viewed by visitors

It added that “additional precautions” had been taken to stop wild bird entering into any of its enclosures.

Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in Cork also moved birds indoors.

Earlier in January, UK officials confirmed that a person living in the south-west of England had caught bird flu – the first human case in the UK.