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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 21 January 2021

Poultry owners warned to keep their birds indoors

It’s a precautionary measure after outbreaks of bird flu in the UK.

Image: Shutterstock/James Kennedy NI

OWNERS OF POULTRY and captive birds have been asked to keep them indoors as a precautionary measure against avian influenza (bird flu).

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has made regulations under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 requiring flock keepers to confine all poultry and captive birds under their control in a secure building to which wild birds or other animals do not have access.

The move comes after outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 were confirmed in a turkey flock in Lincolnshire in England last week, and in a dead wild duck in Carmarthenshire, Wales this week.

The H5N8 subtype of bird flu 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.

The Department of Agriculture has also reminded people involved in arranging bird gatherings that these events “take place under a general licence the terms of which place responsibilities on organisers of such events, emphasising in particular the need to provide advance notification to the department and the application of biosecurity measures”.

‘Very low’ risk to humans

Although the H5N8 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human infections with this virus have been reported worldwide and therefore the risk to humans is considered to be very low.

However, the Department of Agriculture said 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 veterinary office”.

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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.

IFA Poultry Chairman Nigel Renaghan welcomed the department’s decision to issue a housing order for birds.

“This is a necessary and practical measure in response to the confirmation of a case of bird flu in Wales earlier this week. I would urge all flock owners to review their biosecurity protocols and ensure all measures are being taken.

“There is no risk to humans as avian flu only affects birds,” Renaghan said.

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Órla Ryan

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