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Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine reminds people of the risk of Avian Influenza (AI) to the poultry sector in Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine would like to remind people of the risk that Avian Influenza (AI) poses to the poultry sector in Ireland, following the notification of an outbreak of Low Pathogenic AI in England and highlight what measures poultry keepers can take to reduce the risk of introducing of this serious disease into Ireland.

The Department urge all poultry owners to maintain vigilance during the high-risk period. The high-risk period for avian influenza in Ireland is from October onwards due to the arrival of migratory wild birds. The potential for disease transmission and environmental contamination is increased where they mix with resident wild birds. It is very important for poultry keepers to maintain vigilance in relation to biosecurity, prevent contact with wild birds and report any suspicious clinical signs to their veterinary practitioner or the Department.

An LPAI outbreak of the H5 strain was confirmed in the UK yesterday (10th of December) in a flock of 27,000 commercial chickens in Suffolk. All the birds are being humanely culled and a 1km restriction zone was put in place around the infected farm to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Whilst low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) is a less serious strain of H5 avian influenza, it is significant in that he can mutate into highly pathogenic AI. LPAI can cause mild breathing problems but affected birds will not always show clear signs of infection. The last confirmed case of LPAI in the UK was in Dunfermline in January 2016.

The number of outbreaks of notifiable avian influenza in Europe during 2019 to date has been small compared to recent years, however the risk remains. In early October there was an outbreak of H5 LPAI in a flock of free ranging mallard ducks in Central France which was detected as part of the national avian influenza surveillance programme.

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