The chief veterinary officer (CVO) for Northern Ireland, Robert Huey, has announced that the avian influenza (bird flu) surveillance zones in Co. Fermanagh will be lifted tomorrow (Thursday, December 22).

Huey confirmed the date for the lifting of the restrictions, which have been in place since confirmation of the disease in two commercial turkey holdings near Clones, Co. Monaghan in November, today (Wednesday, December 21).

The CVO said when the disease was confirmed on the sites, he declared corresponding measures to the ones adopted by the Republic of Ireland’s CVO for the areas which extended into Northern Ireland.

“Officials from the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) have worked closely with colleagues from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and industry stakeholders to manage these outbreaks,” he said.

“Following the successful completion of all disease control activities and surveillance around both premises, the decision has been taken to lift the movement restrictions.”

Bird flu in Northern Ireland

After the completion of preliminary cleansing and disinfection, the 3km Captive Bird Monitoring Zone at Castle Espie Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) has also been lifted as of Friday, December 16.

However, despite these liftings, the CVO warned that bird flu still poses a threat to Northern Ireland’s poultry industry.

“It is imperative that we don’t get complacent with the lifting of these Surveillance Zones,” he said.

“The risk of an avian influenza incursion into poultry flocks in Northern Ireland is still present and I am urging all bird keepers, particularly over the holiday period, to critically review biosecurity measures, remain vigilant, and report any signs of disease to the department immediately.

“I want to stress that the AIPZ (Avian Influenza Prevention Zone) remains in place across the whole of Northern Ireland and that includes the need to adhere to those strict biosecurity measures and the mandatory housing order introduced in November for all kept and captive birds.”