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First-ever highly pathogenic bird flu in Northern Ireland confirmed

free-range hens indoors

THE SUSPECT case of avian influenza close to Clough, in County Antrim, has been confirmed as highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza (HPAI).

It is the first time that a highly pathogenic notifiable strain of virus has been found in commercial poultry in the country.

See also: Birds culled in Northern Ireland following suspected avian influenza

Precautionary culling is underway at the farm where the virus was first detected, as well as at two linked premises.

The confirmation comes as tests on a second, unrelated, poultry farm near Lisburn, County Antrim, have indicated avian influenza is present.

The birds on that holding will also be humanely culled to prevent the spread of the disease.

Further testing is underway to determine the strain and pathogenicity.

Cases

There have been eight positive cases of H5N8 in wild birds in Northern Ireland across five different locations.

If confirmed, this latest case in Lisburn will mark the 20th case of avian influenza in the UK this winter, far surpassing the number of infected premises in the winter of 2016/2017.

Chief Veterinary Officer for Northern Ireland, Robert Huey said: “This confirmation of notifiable HPAI within poultry flocks here has the potential to have a devastating effect on the industry.

Prevent the spread

“It is vital that all the necessary steps are taken to prevent the further spread of this disease in Northern Ireland.

“All poultry keepers must urgently take action now to keep their birds safe and reduce the risk over the higher risk winter period.”