You are viewing the content for Tuesday 14 February 2006

Europe bird flu cases cause for concern: Coughlan

By Ray Ryan, Agribusiness Correspondent
CONFIRMATION that the lethal strain of bird flu has been confirmed in Greece, Italy and Slovenia was described as a matter of concern last night by Agriculture and Food Minister Mary Coughlan.

But she said her department’s assessment was that while the further spread of the virus had obviously increased the risk to Ireland somewhat, that risk remains low.

Minister Coughlan, who called for continued vigilance, said her department was keeping its contingency arrangements under review and will continue to do what it can to prevent the introduction of the virus to the country.

It was also important that poultry flock owners followed the biosecurity advice issued by the department and that those travelling to affected countries took sensible precautions.

Minister Coughlan said her department had put together a comprehensive booklet for registered poultry flock owners.

She thanked the thousands of flock owners who had registered with the department and asked those who had yet to register to do so "as a matter of urgency."

Ireland East Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness said the challenge now is to ensure that the virus does not transfer from wildfowl to domestic poultry.

"This will present a major problem as monitoring and controlling the movements of wild birds is difficult. The challenge is to ensure that wild birds do not come into contact with domestic poultry," she said.