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Minister Smith introduces precautionary measures following outbreak of avian 'flu in England

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today referred to the case of avian 'flu on a poultry premises in Oxfordshire in England.

The Minister noted confirmation by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that the strain involved is H7 and that it is highly pathogenic. As a consequence, the required EU movement restrictions on poultry and poultry products had been put in place by DEFRA and a ban had been imposed on bird gatherings and shows in the control zone around the outbreak premises.

The Minister confirmed that, as a precautionary measure and along with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland (DARD), his Department was placing a ban on the participation of birds from the control zone in Oxfordshire at bird shows and gatherings in Ireland. In addition, a ban was being put in place on pigeon racing to Ireland from part of England or involving pigeons that were in the control zone from 4 June. The Minister said that the introduction of simultaneous measures on both sides of the border was "a further example of the application of an all-island approach to the threat of the introduction of avian 'flu to the island of Ireland".

Minister Smith said that the ornithological advice available is that as we are currently at the high point of the breeding season, the risk of spread of avian flu by movement of migratory wild birds from Britain remains very low.

Minister Smith also said that his officials would continue to keep the situation and the existing contingency arrangements under ongoing review. He also urged flockowners to continue to take the measures that are outlined in the Biosecurity Information booklet that was recently circulated to them. The booklet on Avian Influenza Control Measures (that was also circulated to flockowners) contained the clinical signs of the disease and any suspicions should be reported to the contact numbers listed.

Date Released: 05 June 2008