Northern Ireland has its worst bird flu outbreak

On the 21st December, Northern Ireland hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, as a case of bird flu was found in a flock of 28,000 broiler breeders on a premise on the border of County Londonderry / County Tyrone. This was the fifth confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Ireland since the start of the 2021-22 avian influenza (AI) season, making this the worst outbreak in Ireland on record. 

Cases began in Ireland on the 21st November, on a premise in County Monaghan, where their commercial housed turkey flock was infected and had to be humanely depopulated. Cases quickly progressed after this, which leads us to the present day situation. 

New figures released by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine show that bird flu has been identified in six premises across Ireland, in South County Monaghan, North County Monaghan and North County Cavan since the first case on the 21st November. 

Across these premises a wide range of birds were infected including turkey broilers, broiler breeders, caged layers, and fattening ducks, as AI is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous systems of a wide range of birds.

Commercial flocks are not the only birds to be affected in Ireland, with wild birds also being widely affected, likely encouraging the spread of the killer disease. The first case found in wild birds was on the 3rd November 2021, in a peregrine falcon and since this, 57 wild birds across 11 countries in Ireland tested positive for HPAI.

The strain currently sweeping its way through Ireland, the UK and the rest of Europe is known as HPAI H5N1, a strain which falls under the notifiable diseases category. This means should you suspect a case of AI, you must by law report it to your local DAERA Direct Office if you are in Ireland or DEFRA for the rest of the UK. 

Biosecurity is the only solution

Edwin Poots, the Agriculture Minister urged flock owners to be vigilant as this is the “worst outbreak ever across the UK and yet another stark reminder of the importance of excellent biosecurity measures which ultimately, are the only protection we have in preventing Avian Influenza getting into our housed flocks.”

The North’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Robert Huey also stressed that “flock keepers should reassess all of their biosecurity measures immediately.”

Excellent biosecurity measures remain any premises’ best defence against all and any disease outbreaks, which is where Livetec can help.

We are biosecurity leaders, with more than a decade’s worth of experience 

At Livetec, we are committed to supporting farmers, their teams and animals. Whilst we are the UK leaders in emergency depopulation, we also directly help you to improve biosecurity on your farm. 

Using our knowledge and experience of disease outbreak and scientific research, we are actively helping our partners to reduce the risk of introducing infectious diseases, financial loss, declining animal health and welfare and loss of reputation. 

Our biosecurity services, contingency planning services and outbreak exercises are tailored to your premises, allowing you to meet the needs of your land, livestock and business. This means should the worst happen, you will be more than prepared to handle the situation and catch it before it spreads.

In the midst of the worst outbreak ever, with three more months of AI season to navigate, don’t leave your farm vulnerable to infectious diseases. Contact Livetec today

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