The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today announced that Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D. has made regulations under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 requiring flock keepers to confine all poultry and captive birds in their possession or under their control in a secure building to which wild birds, or other animals do not have access and to apply particular bio-security measures. The Regulations, entitled Avian Influenza (Precautionary Confinement of Birds) Regulations 2020, provide for precautionary measures, against avian influenza (bird flu) and come into force on 21st December.
These measures are being taken against a background where an outbreak of Avian Influenza H5N8 has been confirmed in a small turkey flock in Co Wicklow and in wild birds in a number of areas across the country.
These findings highlight the increasing risk to all poultry flocks and captive birds and by extension the poultry industry.
Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have also been identified in poultry flocks in Great Britain and other European countries in recent weeks. It is important to note that there is no evidence of risk associated with consumption of poultry meat or poultry meat products.
The Department had previously introduced regulations on 1st December making it mandatory for all keepers of poultry and captive birds to adopt enhanced biosecurity measures and a ban on the arranging bird gatherings.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has confirmed that although the H5N8 subtype can cause serious disease in poultry and other birds, no human infections with this virus have been reported worldwide and, therefore, the risk to humans is very low.
However, members of the public are advised not to handle sick or dead wild birds and to report sick of dead wild birds to the Regional Veterinary Office or contact the DAFM disease hotline on 1850 200 456. An early warning system is in place with Birdwatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Association of Regional Game Councils with regard to surveillance for signs of disease in wild birds.
Poultry flock owners should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, maintain strict biosecurity measures and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Veterinary Office.
An early warning system is in place with Birdwatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Association of Regional Game Councils with regard to surveillance for signs of disease in wild birds.
The Department reinforces the need for vigilance and biosecurity and continues to closely monitor and assess the disease situation and is in regular contact with industry stakeholders.