November 23, 2023


Republic of Ireland prepares for potential bird flu outbreak, issues tender for culling services


The Republic of Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) is taking proactive measures against potential avian influenza outbreaks, seeking tenders for a EUR 1 million (US$1.09 million) depopulation services contract, Irish Examiner reported.


The contract, aimed at bird flocks on poultry premises, is in response to the ongoing threat of diseases like highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) and Newcastle disease.


In the tender request, DAFM highlighted the constant risk of avian influenza to the Irish poultry industry, primarily due to migratory wild birds. The prevalence of highly pathogenic avian influenza, particularly subtype H5N1, across the European Union in 2021/2022 underscores the need for preparedness. The most recent avian influenza outbreak in Irish poultry occurred in November 2022, and cases have also been detected in wild birds in recent years.


The EU legislation mandates stringent measures in the event of confirmed outbreaks, including the humane culling of all poultry on affected premises to prevent the onward spread of the disease. The DAFM notes the importance of dealing with high-impact poultry diseases promptly to mitigate their spread.


The department is seeking an "end-to-end service for poultry depopulation" using the whole-house gassing method with carbon dioxide or other inert gas. Ireland has an estimated total poultry population of approximately 31.5 million birds, distributed across over 7,000 active poultry holdings.


While Ireland largely avoided the bird flu emergency last year, outbreaks were confirmed in November 2022 in two poultry flocks in Co Monaghan, resulting in the culling of around 8,000 birds. Strict measures were implemented to protect other flocks, including the temporary housing of all poultry.


As France initiates mass vaccination of its ducks against bird flu, Ireland remains vigilant, with the current risk appearing lower than last year.


-      Irish Examiner