Avian influenza: 27,000 ducks to be culled on NI farm

Avian influenza: 27,000 ducks to be culled on NI farm

File picture. Picture by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Around 27,000 ducks are to be culled on a Northern Ireland farm after a suspected outbreak of notifiable Avian influenza on a farm in Co Tyrone.

Disease control measures were initiated by the region's chief veterinary officer Dr Robert Huey, who said he was "extremely concerned" following preliminary results provided by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

The commercial duck premises is based in Aughnacloy, close to the border with Co Monaghan, meaning the exclusion zone around it stretches as far as Emyvale, including part of Killy Lough.

The news comes just a day after a third case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was confirmed in a flock of layers on a farm in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan.

While there have not yet been any confirmed instances of the on farms in the North so far this migratory season, there have also been several confirmed cases of notifiable Avian influenza in wild birds across Northern Ireland.

Dr Huey said: “A suspect case of notifiable Avian Influenza was reported to the Department on Tuesday, November 30, and initial results suggest the presence of notifiable AI.

"That, alongside the recently confirmed cases in Co Monaghan, as well as a number of confirmed cases in wild birds across Northern Ireland, means that it is vital we act swiftly to try and limit the spread of any potential disease.

“Therefore, as a precautionary measure, appropriate disease control measures have been put in place, including the humane culling of the affected ducks (27,000) and the introduction of Temporary Control Zones to mitigate for onward disease spread.

“Samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory to confirm strain and pathogenicity. Should highly pathogenic AI be confirmed, these Temporary Control Zones will be revoked and a 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone established."

'No time to be complacent'

Dr Huey warned flock keepers to urgently take steps to protect their birds: “Given this suspected incursion of notifiable AI, we cannot afford to be complacent. I am speaking to those who have half a dozen birds in the garden, right up to those commercial flock keepers with thousands of birds – act now.

"You must adhere to all biosecurity measures to protect your flock. I am extremely concerned about the serious risk of spread and this is a very worrying development.” 

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