Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 28 July 2017

Bird flu not a risk to Human health, says EU Commission

Poultry flock owners should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Poultry flock owners should remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flocks Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Sarah Collins

EU agriculture ministers yesterday discussed the continuing spate of avian flu outbreaks in Europe.

Over Christmas, Ireland became the latest EU country to report the virus, following a first outbreak in Hungary in October last year.

Since then, the H5N8 strain of bird flu has been detected in 16 other EU countries, mainly in wild ducks, swans and seagulls found dead at seashores and lakes.

But it has been detected in poultry in 13 countries, including the Netherlands, which decided to confine the birds indoors until the outbreak has passed.

The problem is that confining poultry for more than 12 weeks means neither they nor their eggs can be classified as free range under EU rules.  

The Dutch are appealing to the European Commission to extend the 12-week rule or, they say, egg producers risk “substantial economic losses”.

So far, bird flu has not infected the poultry population in Ireland.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said that avian influenza is now likely well established in wild bird populations across the country and has urged flock owners to remain vigilant and keep their poultry housed.


In December, the Department of Agriculture announced regulations requiring flock keepers to confine all poultry and captive birds in their possession or under their control in a secure building to which wild birds, or other animals do not have access, and to apply specific bio-security measures.

This followed the confirmation of H5N8 in a wild bird in Wales, and is the first time such action has been taken by this Department.

The requirement to keep birds confined remains in place until further notice but it will be kept under review. It is likely that this will be for a maximum of 12 weeks, in order to prevent any impact on the marketing status for free-range and organic reared poultry.

Bird gatherings (shows, exhibitions and races) are permitted under general licence, subject to prior notification and certain bio security conditions.

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