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Precautionary measures in response to Avian Influenza outbreak in England announced

Thursday, 5 June 2008

In response to the confirmation of an outbreak of highly pathogenic H7 Avian Flu in a commercial layer flock in Oxfordshire, England, DARD has taken precautionary measures to minimise any risk here.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has been liaising closely with DEFRA and on the basis of the information available it has decided to introduce new specific, multiple and general licensing arrangements, effective from 5 June 2008 for poultry and poultry products. All existing general licences currently relating to the importation of poultry and poultry products - including meat, table eggs and captive birds - are hereby revoked.

Any prospective importer wishing to import from any part of Britain should contact DARD Trade Section, tel: 028 9052 4664 before import.

Birds originating from restriction zones in England will be prohibited from attending Bird Gatherings in the north. Pigeon Racing to the north will not be permitted if the races start in England, except for races from Devon and Cornwall.

DARD has an Avian Flu contingency plan in place which would be invoked in the event of an outbreak here. DARD will keep the situation under close review in conjunction with stakeholders. We will also continue to work closely with the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Dublin (DAFF).

Notes to Editors:

  1. There is no reason for public health concern. Avian influenza is a disease of birds, and whilst it can pass very rarely and with difficulty to humans, this requires extremely close contact with infected birds, particularly faeces.
  2. Advice from the Food Standards Agency remains that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
  3. Guidance for members of the public on what they should do if they find a dead wild bird is available on the DARD website.
  4. Guidance to help bird keepers find practical ways of minimising contact with wild birds is available in the leaflet "Preparing for Avian Influenza - Separating flocks from Wild Birds' issued in June 2006. Information is also available on the Avian Influenza section of the DARD websitelink to external website
  5. One way Avian Influenza can be spread to domestic birds is through contact with infected wild birds. Contact may be direct or indirect through faecal contamination of anything that may come into contact with domestic birds such as feed, water, utensils or clothing. The risk of disease spread can therefore be reduced by minimising contact with wild birds.
  6. All media queries to DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.