Flock owners urged to be vigilant as Bird Flu hits just 350 miles away

The Department of Agriculture has urged flock owners to be vigilant following an outbreak of Bird Flu on a Turkey farm in Britain.

An outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 (Bird Flu) has been confirmed in a turkey flock near the coast in Lincolnshire – just under 350 miles away from the Irish coast.

The H5N8 subtype of avian influenza has been responsible for a number of outbreaks of disease in both wild birds and poultry in several European countries since the end of October this year.

Whilst the H5N8 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human infections with this virus have ever been reported world-wide and therefore risk to humans is considered to be very low, the Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

The Department has re-emphasised that poultry flock owners are advised to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks.

They are also advised to maintain strict bio-security measures and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Veterinary Office.

An early warning system is in place with Birdwatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Association of Regional Game Councils with regard to surveillance for signs of disease in wild birds.

The Department said it continues to closely monitor and assess the disease situation and maintains close contact with its counterparts in DAERA on the matter.

Ireland needs to be ‘proactive’ on Bird Flu

Earlier this month, IFA Poultry Committee Chairman Nigel Renaghan said Ireland needs to take a proactive approach to prevent Bird Flu outbreaks.

His comments come after a prevention zone was put in place in England on Tuesday, December 6, which is set to remain in place until early January.

Under the new measures in England, keepers of poultry and other captive birds are now required to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

Renaghan believes similar measures must be put in place to protect the poultry sector in Ireland.

Now is the time to keep the disease out. We must be proactive, not reactive.

“This is the critical period, if we put in place measures for 30 days and hold off the disease, we can then sit down and reassess the situation,” he said.