Only one additional case of Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT) has been recorded in local poultry flocks in the last few days, with the latest update from DAERA indicating that there have been a total of 19 cases reported by private vets since 4 May.
The outbreak is mainly centred around the Dungannon area, and while it typically causes quite low levels of mortality, birds can be put off production for three to four days before recovering.
Updating the Stormont agriculture committee last Thursday DAERA officials explained that the virus is endemic in NI, but normally kept out of commercial poultry flocks by good biosecurity.
Officials believe ILT was initially spread in the wind, although other cases are more likely to be down to contaminated litter, which should be ploughed in directly when spread on land, or taken to AD plants.
The last outbreak of ILT in NI was in 2013, and at that time a live vaccine was made available under authorisation by DAERA for use in breeding flocks.
According to Margaret Hardy from St. David’s poultry team there is now a second option, with a vaccine that covers both ILT and Marek’s Disease, which can be administered to day old chicks.
For older birds, the live vaccine remains the only option. However, it is vital that poultry keepers follow the guidelines for use.
“The live vaccine is only licensed for use by eye drop. We must use responsibly as per the manufacturer authorisation,” she told the Irish Farmers Journal.