Tests rule out lethal bird flu strain in Cork

A strain of the bird flu virus has been detected in a flock of 100 pheasants reared on behalf of a gun club in Cork.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed that preliminary tests identified a H5 strain in the birds, but ruled out the most pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus.

It is understood the birds are reared for a gun club on private grounds near the village of Shannonvale, outside Clonakilty.

The birds are for game and leisure purposes and are not for use in the commercial food chain.

Further tests are being carried out to establish the precise strain. The results are expected to be available within days.

As a precaution, the birds on the affected premises are being slaughtered and the department has put in place all necessary biosecurity measures, including a 1km exclusion zone around the premises where the strain was identified.

In this zone, additional surveillance is being undertaken by departmental veterinary staff and the movement of poultry, other birds and their products, and other animals on poultry holdings is prohibited, except under licence from the regional veterinary office.

In a statement, the department moved to reassure the public.

“It is important to note there is no concern relating to the consumption of poultry meat or poultry meat products and there are no restrictions on poultry movements outside the 1km restriction zone,” the statement said.

While the department has ruled out the most highly pathogenic strain of bird flu, it advised people having contact with birds to ensure that appropriate biosecurity measures are in place.

People handling birds should also check birds regularly and, if an unusually high number of sick or dead birds are noticed, this should be reported to their regional veterinary office.

IFA president John Bryan also urged poultry growers and their families to be extra vigilant in respect of their biosecurity measures.

The particularly virulent strain of the virus H5N1 — not present in the Cork case — has been responsible for outbreaks throughout Asia since 2003 and has been implicated in further outbreaks across Europe in recent years, including in Britain.

In most cases, bird flu does not affect humans. However, there have been rare cases. According to the World Health Organisation, 598 cases of H5N1 virus in humans were detected worldwide, which resulted in 352 deaths.

The vast majority of cases and deaths were in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Egypt.


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