The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has announced the introduction of new regulations under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 requiring flock keepers to apply particular bio-security measures for poultry and other captive birds as a precautionary measure against Avian Influenza, as well as a ban on the assembly of birds.
It follows confirmation of avian influenza H5N8 in wild birds in four counties since early November namely; Cork, Limerick, Mayo and Monaghan.
In a statement, the Department said these wild bird findings confirm that the avian influenza virus is currently circulating in the wild bird population in Ireland.
“This poses a risk to our poultry flocks and industry. These Regulations require specific biosecurity measures to be implemented by the keepers of all poultry (and other captive bird) flocks, irrespective of size, to help mitigate the risk of the virus and additional enhanced biosecurity measures that must be implemented in flocks of 500 birds or more,” it said.
According to the Department, the H5N8 subtype of avian influenza has been responsible for outbreaks of disease in wild birds and poultry in a number of Member States and Great Britain since late October.
It added: “There have also been reported cases of positive wild birds in Northern Ireland, where similar measures are also being introduced.
“The Department maintains close contact with our counterparts in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in evaluating and managing the risk of avian influenza on the island.
“Poultry flock owners should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, maintain strict biosecurity measures and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Regional Veterinary Office.”
The statement said the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has confirmed that although the H5N8 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human infections with this virus have been reported world-wide and therefore risk to humans is considered to be very low.
However, it said, members of the public are advised not to handle sick or dead wild birds and to report sick or dead wild birds to the Regional Veterinary Office or contact the DAFM disease hotline on 1850 200456.
“The Department continues to closely monitor and assess the disease situation and is in regular contact with industry stakeholders,” it concluded.