NI introduces bird flu measures following GB outbreaks

The introduction of the AIPZ in NI comes following numerous outbreaks of the disease in GB
The introduction of the AIPZ in NI comes following numerous outbreaks of the disease in GB

The Northern Irish government will introduce an NI-wide avian influenza prevention zone following multiple outbreaks in Great Britain.

The AIPZ will be introduced from midnight on 17 November, agriculture minister Edwin Poots confirmed on Monday (15 November).

The AIPZ places a legal requirement on all bird keepers in Northern Ireland to follow strict biosecurity measures.

This applies to anyone who keeps pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard or hobby flock.

The decision to introduce the AIPZ comes following multiple detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds across Britain.

Cases of the H5N1 strain have been confirmed in captive birds and poultry in five different locations in the space of two weeks.

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

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 NI.

"I have therefore taken the decision to declare an AIPZ 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 that the AIPZ was necessary to help prevent any contact that wild birds might otherwise have with poultry or 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," he said.

“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 flock, it would have a significant and devastating impact on our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy.”