The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. commented Tuesday on the recent confirmation of outbreaks of the Highly Pathogenic avian ‘flu (HPAI) in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Ireland map/CIA
Ireland map/CIA

Minister Coveney said “there are two types of avian influenza virus. These are called low pathogenic (LPAI) and highly pathogenic (HPAI), depending on the severity of the disease that they cause in birds. H5N8 is the causative agent in Germany and the Netherlands. While the disease has not yet been typed in the UK, it has been confirmed as highly pathogenic.

The Minister said “this is an animal health disease, which normally results in high mortality rates in flocks and its spread is normally controlled by the killing of the affected flocks and the destruction of the carcases. There is no known food safety risk associated with the strain of the disease (H5N8) confirmed in Germany and the Netherlands. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in its recent assessment (November 2014), there have been no human cases of H5N8”.

The likely source of the outbreak of the disease in Europe is wild migratory birds, though this has not been confirmed. The Member States concerned have introduced restrictions on the movement of poultry and poultry products from the affected areas. In addition, the EU has already introduced measures, including protection and surveillance zones in relation to Germany, and will take similar action in relation to the Netherlands and the UK shortly. This should help to limit the spread of the disease.

Minister Coveney emphasised the need for on-going vigilance by flockowners and said “it was important that poultry flockowners followed the bio-security advice issued by the Department”.  Advice on bio-security is available from the Department on its website The Department has reminded poultry flockowners of the need to exercise the highest standards of biosecurity.

The Minister said “my Department has a full range of contingency plans in place and, should an outbreak occur measures will be initiated immediately, to prevent the spread of the disease. Avian Influenza is notifiable to the Department and it is a legal requirement to notify any unusual increase in mortalities or any suspicion of the disease to a veterinary practitioner and to the Department.