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Thousands of birds to be culled after suspected outbreak of bird flu

Another two suspected cases bird flu have been identified in a commercial poultry flock near Markethill in County Armagh and a commercial duck flock in Coagh, County Tyrone.

As a precautionary measure following initial laboratory results, appropriate disease control measures have been introduced including the humane culling of the affected birds - 14,000 in Armagh and 22,000 in Coagh - and the introduction of two Temporary Control Zones (TCZs), to mitigate for onward disease spread.

Samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory to confirm strain and pathogenicity. Should HPAI be confirmed, these TCZs will be revoked and a 3 km Protection Zone (PZ) and 10 km Surveillance Zone (SZ) established around the infected premises

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Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Robert Huey said: “Unfortunately notifiable avian influenza is strongly suspected in two further commercial flocks in Northern Ireland. This is now not only the largest ever outbreak of HPAI in the UK, but also in Northern Ireland and we must do all we can to protect our flocks, protect our businesses and protect the economy.

Thousands of chickens and ducks in Northern Ireland will be humanely culled due to the latest avian flu outbreak.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is that flock keepers reassess all of their biosecurity measures immediately. Are they stringent enough? Are you reviewing them EVERY day? What else can you do to prevent an incursion? Do it today, do not wait.”

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said: “We are at a critical point in the management of this outbreak. This strain of H5N1 spreads quickly and could wipe out an entire flock in a matter of days. I am urging all bird keepers to proactively assess your current biosecurity measures and re-double your efforts to keep this disease out of your flocks.

“Keep your flock housed, change your boots, wash your hands, wear disposable boiler suits, keep surrounding areas clean and only have essential vehicles coming on site – simple, repetitive steps will help protect your flock from Avian Flu.

“We have also received confirmation from the National Reference Lab that the cases in the commercial duck farm in Auchnacloy and the backyard flock keeper in Broughshane were both positive for HPAI H5N1. We cannot afford to be complacent and must act now to protect our flocks.”