Avian Flu surveillance zone removed

The avian surveillance zone in Monaghan and parts of Northern Ireland has been removed from today, December 22, according to the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

The surveillance zone, along with a protection zone, were put in place following the identification of avian influenza in two turkey flocks near Clones, Co. Monaghan last month.

The Minister praised the sector for their response to the challenge of coping with the disease.

“It has been a hugely challenging and worrying time for poultry farmers across the country but they have reacted superbly to the threat of avian influenza (AI)", he said.

"They have been responsible and practical in the face of huge challenges. Keeping AI out of flocks is hugely difficult but the entire industry has worked collaboratively to protect the integrity of the sector. I commend everyone from farmers, to processors, to vets and to my own officials for the massive work they have carried out. While the risk of AI is a constant, I hope we can look forward to a brighter period ahead for the sector.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture welcomed the lifting of restrictions but warned that flocks are still at risk of contracting the disease.

"While the removal of the movement restrictions on poultry within the zone is a very welcome event, the department emphasises that the country is still in the high-risk period for Avian Influenza (AI) and will remain so until at least the end of April. Wild bird fatalities continue to be reported with wild birds continuing to test positive for AI across the country."

They also said that measures will remain in place to stop the spread of the disease.

"The precautionary biosecurity and confinement measures introduced by the department in September and November 2022, respectively, under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, to protect the poultry industry, will remain in force. These include the requirement to confine all poultry or captive birds such that wild birds and other animals do not have access to them and the application of stringent bio-security measures for poultry and other captive birds.

Stringent biosecurity, including housing or confinement of birds, is vital to mitigate the risk of spread of disease and to protect poultry flocks across the island. All keepers of poultry are urged to continue to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity to protect their flocks and to report any suspicion of disease to their local regional veterinary office."