Bird flu: 28,000 birds culled in suspected avian influenza outbreak in Northern Ireland

Bird flu can be spread to poultry (birds that are farmed to eat, or to lay eggs for human consumption).
Around 28,000 birds have been culled in a suspected avian flu outbreak in Co. Londonderry (stock photo) Credit: PA Archive

A bird flu outbreak has triggered a mass bird cull in Northern Ireland.

Around 28,000 birds have been culled in the latest suspected avian flu outbreak in Co. Londonderry.

It follows two previous outbreaks in a commercial poultry flock near Markethill, Co Armagh, and a commercial duck flock in Coagh, Co Tyrone, which were confirmed as positive for HPAI HN51 following results from the National Reference Laboratory.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has briefed a range of key stakeholders from both the Northern Ireland and Great Briatain poultry sectors following the detection of the suspect case in Ballinderry.

This takes Northern Ireland’s number of confirmed outbreaks so far to four, with one more suspected and awaiting confirmation.

Mr Poots said the outbreak was the "worst ever" across the UK, and called for vigilance among flock owners.

“It’s extremely disappointing that this is now the worst outbreak ever across the UK and yet another stark reminder of the importance of excellent biosecurity measures which ultimately, are the only protection we have in preventing Avian Influenza getting into our housed flocks.

"This is a particularly persistent strain and it will use any lapse in biosecurity to gain access to a flock. Everyone must not only use our biosecurity checklist to see if they’ve ticked all the boxes, but get into a routine of checking it every morning.

"Make sure there are no forgotten or damaged access points and review your procedures every day to reduce the risk.

“I would like to thank the poultry sector for working so hard to protect our valuable industry and for how willing they are to make significant sacrifices to minimise the spread of this outbreak.”