Avian Influenza prevention zone lifted in Northern Ireland
Published:  31 May, 2017

The Avian Influenza (AI) prevention zone in Northern Ireland will not be renewed once it is lifted today. 

The zone was enforced to reduce the risk of AI spreading. Poultry-keepers were required to place enhanced biosecurity measures prior to letting their birds outside.

Furthermore, the ban on shows and gatherings of poultry, waterfowl and game birds is also being lifted today, with a new general licence coming into force to reflect this change.

“This will be welcome news for many keepers who have opted to keep their birds indoors to protect them from a seasonally increased risk from highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8,” said Northern Ireland chief veterinary officer Robert Huey.

“This decision has been made following a recent veterinary risk assessment, concluding that the risk of avian influenza incursion to poultry and captive birds in Northern Ireland is low. This has been a testing time for all of us, and I would like to thank all bird-keepers in Northern Ireland for their co-operation and vigilance. Your positive and committed response has helped us reach this point.”

Huey said it was a relief that the risk has been reduced, but added this did not mean that keepers should become complacent. “It is essential that bird-keepers maintain effective biosecurity all year round, not only when a prevention zone is in place,” he commented. “All bird-keepers should consider maintaining enhanced biosecurity practices such as washing boots and equipment with approved disinfectant, implementing effective rodent control, minimising unnecessary visitors and reducing their flock’s contact with wild birds.

“I would also strongly urge poultry-keepers to reassess their contingency plans, given the new perspective this season’s outbreaks of H5N8 provides. Practical advice about their specific arrangements should be sought from their private veterinary practice, in consultation with their local divisional veterinary office.”

Specific licensing arrangements regarding the importation of poultry and hatching eggs, ornamental fowl, racing pigeons and captive birds from Great Britain remain in place.