Poultry farmers told to keep flocks indoors amid rise in bird flu cases

The order from Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will take effect from Monday, November 7th
Poultry farmers told to keep flocks indoors amid rise in bird flu cases

By Cate McCurry, PA

Poultry farmers have been told they must keep their flocks indoors following a rise in bird flu cases.

The confinement order from Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will take effect from Monday, November 7th.

The regulation has been made under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 requiring keepers to confine all poultry and captive birds in a secure building.

The latest case of bird flu was detected in a dead swan in Co Cavan on Tuesday.

The regulations, entitled Avian Influenza, are being introduced as a precautionary measure, the agriculture department said.

The measure is being taken against a background of the confirmation of disease in wild birds along the coast since July, increasing risk levels due to colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours, as well as recent confirmation of disease in a wild bird inland.

In addition, two outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was reported in captive bird flocks in coastal areas of counties Dublin and Wicklow.

The department said these findings highlight an increasing risk to all poultry flocks and captive birds and, by extension, the poultry industry.

Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have also been identified in poultry flocks in Great Britain and a number of other European countries in recent weeks.

The Government previously introduced regulations in September, making it mandatory for all keepers of poultry and captive birds to adopt enhanced biosecurity measures.

“It is important to note that housing is a support to biosecurity, not an alternative. Stringent biosecurity remains key to protecting poultry and captive bird flocks from disease,” the Department of Agriculture.

Poultry keepers are being urged to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, maintain strict biosecurity measures, and report any disease suspicions to their nearest department veterinary office.

 

“The department continues to closely monitor and assess the disease situation and is in regular contact with industry stakeholders,” it added.

“It is important to note that there is no evidence of risk to humans associated with consumption of poultry or poultry products. Properly cooked poultry products, including meat and eggs, are safe to eat.

“The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has confirmed that, although the H5N1 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, the risk of infection to humans is considered to be very low.

“However, 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 notify the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine through its Avian Influenza Wild Bird App.”

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.

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