| High powered meeting on bird flu threat
Belfast Telegraph | August 29, 2005
By Michael Drake
Ulster Farmers Union chiefs will meet senior government vets this week to discuss the threat of avian flu to the province.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland poultry producers are monitoring closely the spread of the virus which is moving westwards across Russia.
Union officials will meet with DARD to discuss contingencies for the industry here.
The union have welcomed measures being adopted by the EU Commission in response to the current situation.
The Commission's Animal Health Committee has assessed the risk of Avian Influenza spreading to Europe as between low and remote.
However they have set aside 1.2 million Euro to increase surveillance of migratory birds, but measures to bring European poultry flocks indoor were not recommended.
The EU has asked all member states to take appropriate action to restrict imports from the affected regions.
As a result DARD will not be permitting imports of live poultry and hatching birds from these regions.
Union spokesman Thomas Douglas said: "UK veterinary authorities still deem the outbreak to be a low risk to the UK.
"The authorities do not believe it is necessary to house outdoor poultry, a move taken by the Dutch government.
"However, both the industry and government in the UK are keeping a close watch on the situation".
Avian Influenza, or bird flu, has never emerged in the UK, although in the Netherlands, 1,200 farms were infected in 2003 and 30 million poultry were destroyed.
The Dutch veterinary authorities have now ordered all farmers to keep their birds housed.