Researchers at the Pirbright Institute have announced the development of a new vaccine they say has a faster and stronger immune response in chickens against the H9N2 bird flu strain.

“Birds produced antibody responses as early as six days after vaccination and they shed significantly less flu virus when challenged with a natural flu strain, indicating the birds would be less likely to spread infection.

"High levels of protective antibodies were produced even when birds were given a reduced dose,” Pirbright said.

“As well as providing enhanced protection, this vaccine will be easier and less costly to manufacture.

Insect cells

“The tagged flu virus HA protein can be produced in a laboratory culture of insect cells instead of using eggs to grow live vaccine viruses.

"This would enable the poultry industry to reduce its reliance on chicken eggs for vaccine production, increasing the availability of eggs for use as a food source.”

Since then, Ireland has confirmed HPAI in 30 wild birds

A different strain of bird flu has previously been found in Ireland.

The first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 in wild birds was confirmed in Co Limerick on 10 November 2020.

Since then, Ireland has confirmed HPAI in 30 wild birds, in species including whooper swans, mute swans, barnacle goose, curlew, cormorant, knots and peregrine falcons.

The cases have been confirmed in counties Cavan, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, Wexford and Wicklow.

However, many poultry producers will still be interesting in vaccine developments as bird flu remains an issue for the industry worldwide.