Poultry disease hits 250,000 birds on 16 farms

Poultry disease hits 250,000 birds on 16 farms

Viral infection can prove fatal and limit egg production

Around 250,000 birds on Northern Ireland poultry farms have been infected by a disease which causes respiratory problems and can lead to their death.

The BBC reported that laryngotracheitis (ILT) has been detected on 16 farms by Department of Agriculture vets.

Daera said there a had been a breakdown in strict biosecurity protocols being followed by farmers.

Veterinary officer Ignatius McKeown described ILT as “a nasty viral disease from the herpes group”.

Its symptoms include respiratory problems, increased deaths and loss of production and it is likely to spread rapidly if unchecked.

‘Control the spread’

Unlike bird flu, animals can fully recover from ILT and mass culling is not a requirement.

Mr McKeown said new cases of ILT must be reported to Daera, adding: ” “Daera has joined with poultry producers in forming a group to formulate a plan to react against this disease and put procedures in place to control the spread of the disease.

“People with infected flocks are asked to keep poultry litter on their premises as long as possible. The longer the litter is kept on the premises the virus will reduce through time.”

Mortality rates vary with ILT  but it can be as high as 80% in young birds and the disease can cause a severe drop in egg production in laying flocks.

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