A case of non-notifiable avian influenza H6N1 has been identified in a broiler breeder farm in Co Fermanagh, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural affairs (DAERA).
This is a less-serious strain of influenza which does not require further action by DAERA. However, chief veterinary officer for Northern Ireland Dr Robert Huey has urged all bird keepers to maintain excellent biosecurity.
Dr Huey has said that a veterinary investigation has concluded and all restrictions have now been lifted.
“Although this is a non-notifiable strain of the disease, it is a timely reminder to us all that avian influenza is a constant threat to all poultry flocks and how devastating it would be to our poultry industry should a notifiable case be confirmed in Northern Ireland.”
These recent cases represent warning signals for all poultry keepers
He outlined that there was a case of notifiable low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) of the H5 strain confirmed in a broiler breeder farm in Suffolk in December and that several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have also been confirmed in Poland in the last fortnight.
“These recent cases represent warning signals for all poultry keepers that must not be ignored, including those keeping game birds and pet birds.
“All flock keepers, regardless of size, are urged to act now by maintaining good biosecurity at all times in order to reduce the risk of disease transmission to their flocks,” Dr Huey said.
He warned all flock owners to alert DAERA if they suspect any signs of the disease in their flocks.
“I would also encourage bird keepers to subscribe to the avian influenza text alert service by simply texting ‘BIRDS’ to 67300. You will be kept updated with the latest news and will receive immediate notification of any disease outbreak.”
Signs to look out for in your flock include:Increased number of deaths.A swollen head.Discolouration of the neck and throat.A loss of appetite.Respiratory distress. Diarrhoea and fewer eggs laid.
UFU deputy president David Brown said the UFU is relieved by the news that the investigation identified a strain of non-notifiable avian influenza.
“It is a huge relief to our poultry farmers throughout Northern Ireland.
“The case, however, is a clear reminder of the threat that avian influenza poses to Northern Ireland’s poultry industry and I urge all poultry and backyard keepers to continue maintaining high standards of biosecurity and to practice good farm hygiene at all times to protect their flock from infection.
“Bird keepers should subscribe to DAERA’s text alert service to receive immediate notifications should there be a disease outbreak and if they have any suspicion of infection in their flock I urge them to contact their local divisional veterinary office and report the case to DAERA for investigation immediately,” he said.
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