Bird Flu outbreak in Irish pheasants.

Avian influenza (AI) was discovered 10 days ago in a flock of 100 pheasants being reared by a gun club near Clonakilty, in County Cork.

Tests by the Republic of Ireland?s Department of Agriculture revealed that the birds, which were consigned from the UK on 10 March, were not carrying the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Further epidemiological investigations on the infected premises suggest that infection occurred after the birds arrived in Ireland.

The infected flock and a related flock at nearby Barryroe were slaughtered over the weekend of 1 April and bio-security measures and a 1km exclusion zone implemented. Ireland?s Department of Agriculture has declined to say where the birds were sourced, but the UK premises has been visited and no past or present evidence of the disease found.

The AI outbreak is the first in Ireland in 14 years. It is thought to have transferred locally to gamebirds from contact with wild birds.

BASC?s Dr Conor O?Gorman told Shooting Times magazine that good communication between partner agencies had enabled the severity of the situation to be assessed quickly: ?We are extremely grateful to the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) for keeping us informed of local developments as they happened.?

?This meant that we could update other shooting organisations on a daily basis in preparation for the possibility that there might be infected pheasants in the UK.?

?Thankfully, that was not the case ? DEFRA officials acted quickly in liaising with their counterparts in Ireland to rule out any infection link between the outbreak in Eire and the importation of pheasants from Britain.?

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