The Republic of Ireland (ROI) has confirmed Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in samples from a commercial housed turkey flock in County Monaghan.
As a consequence disease control restriction zones have been put in place around the infected premises. In addition, authorities have announced the introduction of a housing order across ROI whereby all poultry and captive birds must now be kept in secure housing or otherwise separate from wild birds.
Minister Poots said: "HPAI H5N1 has now been confirmed in over 100 wild birds across Great Britain with 12 HPAI H5N1 confirmations in premises. A further site in England has suffered an H5N1 incursion, also likely to be HPAI, and yesterday we have confirmation of the first incursion, on a commercial premises, in the Republic of Ireland.
"While there have been no confirmed cases in Northern Ireland during this current outbreak my officials have thoroughly investigated and negated six suspect cases. It is therefore imperative that the poultry industry, and indeed all bird keepers in Northern Ireland, take all possible measures to ensure our national flock is protected from this dreadful disease.
"I took the decision to introduce an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) across Northern Ireland on 17 November. This places a legal requirement on all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures. This applies if you keep pet birds, commercial flocks, just a few birds in a backyard or a hobby flock.
"The recent positive findings of H5N1 across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland would suggest that the disease is already present in Northern Ireland and it is of paramount importance that all bird keepers take appropriate action to review and enhance their biosecurity measures to protect their birds from this highly infectious disease."
Chief Veterinary Officer for NI, Dr Robert Huey, added: "All flock keepers must take action now to review and, where necessary, improve biosecurity in order to prevent an incursion of the disease into our poultry flock. If Avian Influenza were to enter our Northern Ireland flock, it would have a devastating impact on our poultry industry, international trade and the wider economy. In addition, the negative financial and emotional impact on the individual farm family and business is something we have seen all too often with disease incursions and we must do everything we can to avoid this, particularly at this time of heightened risk.
"This incursion of HPAI H5N1 into a commercial turkey premises in County Monaghan must serve as a stark reminder that Avian Influenza is already present here. Officials will continue to work closely with poultry keepers and the wider industry as we seek to progress all possible measures to mitigate against further Avian Influenza confirmations, and in considering next steps, including any possible introduction of a housing order here."
DAERA encourages you to register your flock (however small) so that we can reach you directly with future communications and updates. You can register by contacting your local DAERA Direct office or online via the DAERA website. You can also sign up to the text alert service simply by texting 'BIRDS' to 67300. This will allow you to receive immediate notification of any important disease information, allowing you to protect your flocks at the earliest opportunity.
Avian Influenza is a notifiable disease. Anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must, by law, report it to their local DAERA Direct Office.