Suspected bird flu case identified in Co Down

A suspected case of reportable bird flu has been identified in Co Down after samples were collected from a number of sites, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed.

The Minister confirmed that the cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 were reported to have been found in samples collected from captive birds at Castle Espie, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Strangford Lough.

A 3 km long disease control exclusion zone has now been established around these areas, with rules stating that all poultry and captive birds must be kept in safe houses and away from wild birds.

The latest potential outbreak is Northern Ireland’s sixth in the past year.

Agriculture Secretary Edwin Poots said: “To date there have been over 180 cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 across the UK since the first case was confirmed in England on 26 October 2021.

“In the last 12 months there have been six confirmed outbreaks in Northern Ireland, the most recent in February, with a significant number of wild birds recorded throughout the year. There have also been six confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland. Previously, the largest number of cases in the UK was 26 cases in 2020/2021 and 13 cases in 2016/17.

“The continued positive H5N1 results across the UK and the results of our wild bird surveillance program suggest that the disease is already making a resurgence in Northern Ireland. It is of the utmost importance that all bird keepers take appropriate steps to review and improve their biosecurity measures to protect their birds from this highly contagious disease.

“No poultry farm or captive bird site is immune to a possible intrusion. Everyone must take immediate action now to protect not just local herds and business premises, but our entire industry and specialized conservation and educational sites from this terrible disease.”

NI’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Robert Huey, added: “All flock owners must now take action to review and improve biosecurity if necessary to prevent the disease spreading to our poultry flock.

“If avian influenza were to enter our trading flock in Northern Ireland, it would have a significant and devastating impact on our poultry industry, international trade and the broader economy.

“Furthermore, we have all too often seen the negative financial and emotional impact on the individual farming family and business in the event of illness, and we must do everything we can to avoid this, especially at this time of heightened risk.” Suspected bird flu case identified in Co Down

Fry Electronics Team

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