Ireland needs to be ‘proactive’ in preventing bird flu outbreaks

Ireland needs to take a proactive approach to preventing bird flu outbreaks, according to the Chairman of the IFA Poultry Committee Nigel Renaghan.

His comments come after a prevention zone was put in place in England on Tuesday, December 6, and is set to remain in place for the next 30 days.

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.

As the Chairman of the IFA Poultry Committee has previously said, organic and free range birds are most at risk of contracting the disease due to being outside.

He believes that these birds should be housed in-doors to prevent contact with wild birds, while all poultry keepers should pay special attention to their bio-security measures.

“Preventative measures must be put in place to protect poultry producers, as an outbreak of the disease in Ireland could inhibit the ability to export,” he said.

Recent Bird Flu Outbreaks in the EU

In the first week of December, 44 outbreaks of the disease were reported in seven EU Member States to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Outbreaks were reported in France, Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, Germany, Austria and Finland in a mixture of wild birds and commercial poultry flocks.

In total 44,292 birds died or had to be destroyed due to the disease, while both protection and surveillance zones were set up around large poultry farms that were infected by the highly pathogenic disease.

Preventive Measures Put In Place In England

Under the preventive measures put in place in England all domestic chickens, hens, turkeys and ducks should be housed immediately, according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

As well as this all bird keepers must now take extra biosecurity steps, such as minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds.

This will will include making sure that feed and water can’t be accessed by wild birds.

Bird keepers are also advised to take all reasonable precautions to avoid the transfer of contamination between premises, including cleansing and disinfection of equipment, vehicles and footwear.