FERMANAGH bird keepers are on high alert after a highly contagious strain of bird flu was confirmed in two neighbouring counties, including at a commercial turkey farm in Monaghan.
Concern had already been growing over the spread of the disease, which poses little risk to humans but could be economically devastating for the local poultry industry, after cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in animals in southern Irish counties and in Britain. Then, last week, a case was confirmed in a wild bird in Donegal.
The discovery of the disease, which is believed to be spread by migrating wild birds, in a housed turkey flock in Monaghan at the weekend is particularly concerning not only due to its proximity to Fermanagh, but because it is the first confirmation of a case at a commercial premises in Ireland.
“While there have been no confirmed cases in Northern Ireland during this current outbreak, my officials have thoroughly investigated and negated six suspect cases,” said Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots.
“It is therefore imperative that the poultry industry, and indeed all bird keepers in Northern Ireland, take all possible measures to ensure our national flock is protected from this dreadful disease.”
Due to the rising cases, Minister Poots introduced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) last week, which puts a legal requirement on bird keeper to follow strict biosecurity measures. Noting it is likely the disease is already in the North, he said it was “of paramount importance” that all bird keepers stick to these measures and take appropriate action to enhance their biosecurity.
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