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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Avian Influenza Prevention Zone introduced in Northern Ireland

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will be introduced in Northern Ireland (NI) from midnight on 17 November, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, MLA, has confirmed.

The AIPZ places a legal requirement on all bird keepers in Northern Ireland to follow strict biosecurity measures. This applies if you keep pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard or hobby flock.

The decision to introduce the AIPZ in Northern Ireland comes following multiple detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in wild birds across Great Britain, with cases of the H5N1 strain being confirmed in captive birds and poultry in five different locations.

There have also been confirmed cases in wild birds across four locations in the Republic of Ireland where similar measures are also being introduced on 17 November.

Announcing the introduction of the AIPZ, Minister Poots said:

“The recent positive findings of H5N1 in wild birds in the Republic of Ireland suggest that the disease may already be present here in Northern Ireland. I have therefore taken the decision to declare an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone from midnight 17 November based on sound expert advice and in consultation with industry.

“This is a necessary precautionary step that requires all bird keepers to take appropriate action to review and enhance the measures to protect their birds from this highly infectious disease.”

Chief Veterinary Officer for NI, Dr Robert Huey, added:

This introduction of the AIPZ is necessary to help prevent any contact that wild birds might otherwise have with poultry or other captive birds. It reduces the risk of contamination from the virus to food and water provided to poultry and other captive birds therefore reducing opportunity for the disease to spread between premises.

“I am urging all flock keepers, even if you keep just one bird, to take action now to improve biosecurity in order to prevent an incursion of the disease into our poultry flock. If Avian Influenza were to enter our Northern Ireland flock, it would have a significant and devastating impact on our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy.”

Full details of measures required within the AIPZ can be found in the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone declaration here.

DAERA encourages you to register your flock (however small) so that we can reach you directly with future communications and updates. You can register by contacting your local DAERA Direct office or online via the DAERA website.

You can also sign up to the text alert service simply by texting 'BIRDS' to 67300.

This will allow you to receive immediate notification of any important disease information, allowing you to protect your flocks at the earliest opportunity.

Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must, by law, report it to their local DAERA Direct Office.

The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low. The Food Standards Agency has also advised, in avian influenza incursions of this type, that there is a very low risk to public health from the consumption of properly cooked poultry meat or eggs provided appropriate hygiene measures are followed.


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