Over 80,000 birds will be culled after highly-pathogenic avian influenza was confirmed in a Northern Irish commercial flock, and a second case is under investigation.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Dr Robert Huey announced the developments on Thursday (7 January).
At the weekend, disease control measures were put in place at a holding in the Clough area of County Antrim after results suggested bird flu in a commercial flock.
The National Reference Laboratory has now confirmed that highly pathogenic avian influenza, subtype H5N8, was detected.
This is the first ever high-path AI incursion detected in a poultry flock in Northern Ireland.
The government has initiated disease control measures at the premises following the initial findings at the weekend and the birds will be humanely culled.
In addition, two linked holdings have been identified as high risk contacts and as a precautionary measure, will be included in the depopulation.
Approximately 80,000 birds will be culled, Dr Robert Huey confirmed.
An epidemiological investigation is underway to determine the likely source of infection and determine the risk of disease spread.
Meanwhile, a further suspected case of notifiable avian influenza is being investigated at separate commercial premises near Lisburn, County Antrim.
Speaking about the second suspect case, Dr Huey said: “I have also initiated disease control measures in a holding near Lisburn, Co Antrim.
"These measures include the humane culling of the affected birds (approx. 31,000) and the introduction of Temporary Control Zones (3km and 10km) to mitigate for onward disease spread.
"Samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory to determine pathogenicity and strain of the disease and we await those results.”
To date there have been eight positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 confirmed in wild birds in NI across five different locations.
There have also been recent detections in wild birds, poultry and captive birds across Britain, in addition to detections in the Republic of Ireland.
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been in place across NI from 1 December to further enhance biosecurity measures, and a mandatory housing order has been in place since 23 December.
Dr Huey continued: “This confirmation of notifiable HPAI within poultry flocks here has the potential to have a devastating effect on the industry.
"It is vital that all the necessary steps are taken to prevent the further spread of this disease in Northern Ireland."