The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that test results have identified evidence of Avian Influenza H5N1 in samples from a turkey flock in Co. Monaghan.
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As a consequence restriction zones are being set up around the area where additional movement control and surveillance measures will be put in place.
Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 has already been confirmed in wild birds in a number of counties across the country in recent weeks. Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have also been identified in poultry flocks in Italy, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Estonia, Czechia, Norway, Bulgaria, Belgium and the UK since early October.
It is important to note that there is no evidence of risk associated with consumption of poultry meat or poultry meat products.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has confirmed that although the H5N1 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human infections with this virus have been reported in Europe and therefore risk to humans is considered to be very low.
Notwithstanding, members of the public are, as always, advised not to handle sick or dead wild birds and to report sick of dead wild birds to the Regional Veterinary Office or contact the Department’s disease hotline.
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.
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 Department reinforces the need for vigilance and biosecurity and advises strict adherence to the precautionary measures against avian influenza (bird flu) recently introduced in regulations under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.
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.
To further mitigate the risk of spread within the poultry sector, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, has made regulations under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 requiring flock keepers to confine all poultry and captive birds in their possession or under their control in a secure building.
The Department continues to closely monitor and assess the disease situation and is in regular contact with industry stakeholders and colleagues in Northern Ireland. ■
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