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Vigilence urged after Lancashire bird flu case confirmed

Quarantined birds in Lancashire have been culled following confirmation of the H7N7 strain of bird flu

Poultry farms in Northern Ireland have been urged to remain vigilant following the confirmation of the H7N7 strain of bird flu on a farm near Preston in Lancashire.

Agricultural Minister for Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill said: “This outbreak has been declared in England only. My department has been liaising with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) who have made it clear that the risk to public health is very low and that there is no risk to the food chain.

“Since they became aware of the early indications of the disease in Lancashire, my staff have been in direct contact with key poultry industry representatives and stakeholders in the north of Ireland to advise them of the situation and to call for increased vigilance. While the situation will be kept under review, I would encourage bird keepers, as a precaution, to revisit their own biosecurity.

“As a precaution the general licence for import of live poultry, poultry meat, poultry products, or hatching eggs from Britain has been suspended and anyone wishing to import these should apply to the Department for a specific licence.”

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) established a 10 km surveillance and 3 km protection zone around the affected farm in Lancashire, and the birds within the quarantine have been culled.

Chief Veterinary Officer for Nothern Ireland, Mr Robert Huey, said: “We are continuing to liaise closely with DEFRA and are conducting a veterinary risk assessment for the north of Ireland, the results of which will inform whether any additional local control measures are required at this time. We have informed our counterparts in the south of the situation and will continue to work closely with them to ensure that we apply consistent and proportionate measures to protect the island of Ireland.”

Though H7N7 is able to spread to humans, Public Health England have said the risk to the public is very low, and the Food Standards Agency have said there is no food safety risk to consumers.

Click here for more information on preventing the spread of H7N7 due to contact with wild birds.

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