Avian Influenza – this time it’s ‘deadly’ serious

Farm Minister Edwin Poots MLA is imploring all poultry producers and bird keepers to maintain the highest biosecurity standards within their flocks at all times: otherwise they run the very real risk of contacting the latest form of Avian Influenza - (HPAI) H5N1- to reach these shores.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 10:40 am
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th January 2020 -  

Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes  / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th January 2020 - Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

To date 53 cases of the disease have been confirmed in GB; five in the Republic of Ireland and four in Northern Ireland.

The minister further explained:

“This is an extremely virulent form of the disease. It can cause general levels of sickness in flocks within a very short period of time. But very soon, thereafter, deaths will start to mount up at an alarming rate.

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“We are dealing with, possibly, the most serious form of Avian Flu yet to be encountered here. It is already ravaging flocks in many parts of GB. Five outbreaks have been encountered in the Republic of Ireland, up to this point, all in border counties.

DAERA has established control zones in response to the presence of outbreaks nearby in the Republic of Ireland.”

According to the minister, the latest Avian Flu outbreaks can be attributed to the arrival of migratory birds. This means that the threat of the disease will remain high throughout the coming winter months.

Edwin Poots continued:“Any direct connection between the inside of a poultry unit and the outside of these buildings can represent a source of infection.

“Rain water, if allowed to get into a poultry unit, is a case in point. Rodents also represent a particularly potent source infection.

“Given these circumstances poultry keepers must maintain the highest biosecurity levels at all times. This principle extends to all vehicles arriving at farms and all visitors, particularly those involved in maintenance and repair work.”

The minister confirmed that such is the virulence of the latest Avian Influenza variant that it has been classified as a notifiable disease.

He further explained:“As a result government will compensate flock owners for costs associated with ensuring the infected premises can be safely restocked.

“However, there will be no compensation available for any loss of income incurred.”

All the latest news regarding the current Avian Influenza outbreak can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)website on the following link: www.daera-ni.gov.uk/ai.

A self-assessment biosecurity tool, which all poultry producers are being encouraged to use can also be accessed on the DAERA site on:www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/biosecurity-self-assessment-tool