Warning after bird flu found in backyard flock

Warning after bird flu found in backyard flock

The discovery of  bird flu in a backyard flock in Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh has been described as a “timely reminder” by Chief Vet Robert Huey.

The Public Health Agency said on February 8 a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone had been established around the infected premises where a case of avian influenza was found in a small, mixed species, backyard flock.

The news comes after two separate flocks in Northern Ireland were culled last year.

Northern Ireland Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey said: “As a precautionary measure, on February 4, following initial laboratory results, I took the decision to introduce appropriate disease control measures, including the humane culling of the affected birds and the introduction of Temporary Control Zones (TCZs), to mitigate for onward disease spread.

“Following the confirmation of HPAI H5N1 from the National Reference Laboratory today, these TCZs have now been revoked and a 3 km Protection Zone (PZ) and 10 km Surveillance Zone (SZ) established around the infected premises.

“It is a timely reminder that bird flu is still present in the environment and we must continue to be vigilant. We cannot afford to get complacent. This strain will use any gaps in biosecurity to gain access to a flock.”

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots added: “I am calling on all bird keepers, particularly those with small backyard flocks, to review their biosecurity practices.

“Excellent biosecurity remains the most effective defence for reducing transmission of avian influenza to poultry or captive birds and it is vitally important that all bird keepers adhere to the strict enhanced biosecurity measures of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) which remains in place in Northern Ireland.

“As part of the measures of the AIPZ, bird keepers legally must keep their birds indoors or otherwise separate from wild birds, we cannot afford to be complacent so I would urge everyone to take all measures necessary.”

If you are a backyard flock keeper, tips on improving your biosecurity are available on the DAERA website.