Disease control measures have been initiated by Northern Ireland's Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Robert Huey, following suspicion of notifiable Avian Influenza (AI), at a commercial duck premises in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone.
Dr Huey has taken the decision based on number of factors including the clinical signs, preliminary results provided by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the recent confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in commercial flocks in County Monaghan. There have also been a number of confirmed cases of notifiable AI in wild birds across Northern Ireland.
Dr Huey said: "A suspect case of notifiable Avian Influenza (AI) was reported to the Department on Tuesday 30 November and initial results suggest the presence of notifiable AI. That, alongside the recently confirmed cases in County Monaghan as well as a number of confirmed cases in wild birds across Northern Ireland, means that it is vital we act swiftly to try and limit the spread of any potential disease.
"Therefore, as a precautionary measure, appropriate disease control measures have been put in place, including the humane culling of the affected ducks (27,000) and the introduction of Temporary Control Zones (TCZ) to mitigate for onward disease spread.
"Samples have been sent to the National Reference Laboratory to confirm strain and pathogenicity. Should highly pathogenic AI be confirmed, these TCZs will be revoked and a 3 kilometre Protection Zone (PZ) and 10 kilometre Surveillance Zone (SZ) established."
Dr Huey warned flock keepers to urgently take steps to protect their birds: "Given this suspected incursion of notifiable AI, we cannot afford to be complacent. I am speaking to those who have half a dozen birds in the garden, right up to those commercial flock keepers with thousands of birds - ACT NOW. You must adhere to all biosecurity measures to protect your flock. I am extremely concerned about the serious risk of spread and this is a very worrying development."
Full details of the scope and measures required within the TCZ have been published on the DAERA website.
Members of the public are encouraged to report dead waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, to the DAERA helpline on 0300 200 7840.