Further outbreaks of Avian Bird flu have been discovered in a number of wild birds in counties Cork, Limerick, Monaghan and Mayo.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has moved to implement regulations under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 that requires flock keepers to apply particular biosecurity measures for poultry and other captive birds as a precautionary measure against the disease.
The poultry sector on the island of Ireland was already on high alert after two individual cases of the flu were, last month, confirmed in Limerick and Derry.
A ban on the assembly of birds has also been introduced as the latest findings indicate that the avian influenza virus is circulating in the wild bird population across Ireland.
“This poses a risk to our poultry flocks and industry,” a spokesperson added.
“These Regulations require specific biosecurity measures to be implemented by the keepers of all poultry - and other captive bird - flocks, irrespective of size, to help mitigate the risk of the virus as well as additional enhanced biosecurity measures that must be implemented in flocks of 500 birds or more.
“The H5N8 subtype of avian influenza has been responsible for outbreaks of disease in wild birds and poultry in a number of member states across the EU and in the UK since late October.
“There have also been reported cases of positive wild birds in Northern Ireland, where similar measures are also being introduced.”
Meanwhile, Poultry flock owners are being advised to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks, maintain strict biosecurity measures and report any disease suspicion to their nearest Department Regional Veterinary Office.
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 world-wide and therefore risk to humans is considered to be very low.
However, members of the public are being advised not to handle sick or dead wild birds and to report sick or dead wild birds to the Regional Veterinary Office or contact the DAFM disease hotline on 1850 200456.
An early warning system is in place with Birdwatch Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the National Association of Regional Game Councils with regard to surveillance for signs of disease in wild birds.