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Bird flu outbreak: More than one lakh birds were culled in Northern Ireland

DUBLIN: More than a million birds have been culled in Northern Ireland following an outbreak of avian flu. The Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture has confirmed the detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a poultry farm in Clough, Co Down. About 80,000 chickens have been culled from the area, the department said. A second suspicious case found in a commercial holding in Lisburn is under investigation. About 31,000 birds will be culled there.

Preliminary results from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) confirmed the infection. The National Reference Laboratory has confirmed that H5N8 is a subtype of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. An epidemiological investigation is underway to determine the source of the infection and the risk of spreading the disease. Samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory to determine the cause of the disease, and authorities are waiting for those results.

This is the first HPAI attack in Northern Ireland, said Chief veterinary officer Dr Robery Huey. He said the disease “has the potential to have a devastating effect on the industry”. The infection was confirmed over the weekend. “Disease control measures were put in place at a holding in the Clough area,” he said.

Meanwhile, a case of suspected avian influenza was found at a separate commercial premise near Lisburn, Co Antrim. Here, too, disease control measures have been initiated.

Eight positive HPAI cases have been confirmed in wild birds in Northern Ireland, across five different locations. The disease has recently been found in wild birds, poultry and captive birds across Great Britain and in the Republic of Ireland.

The department said the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been in place across Northern Ireland since December 1 to further improve biosecurity measures. The mandatory housing order is also in effect from December 23rd.

“I am urging everyone to critically review and improve where necessary, their biosecurity arrangements, remaining alert for any signs of disease. If you are concerned about the health of your birds in any way please report it to DAERA immediately,” Dr. Huey said.

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