Farmers in Northern Ireland have been urged to ensure the highest levels of biosecurity after a number of outbreaks of infectious laryngotraceitis (ILT).
Egg producers and broiler units have reported 30 outbreaks in the last two months. However, it is thought hundreds of thousands of birds have been caught up in the outbreaks. ILT cannot be transmitted from poultry to humans.
DAERA said litter is the most likely cause of the disease spread and added: “ILT affects poultry, causing severe respiratory problems, increased mortality and production loss.”
“Excellent biosecurity measures are absolutely vital in reducing the risk of ILT spread. Litter has been identified as a key risk factor in infection spread.
“We are urging industry to keep litter trailers covered and store litter for as long as practically possible before spreading it.”
Both the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and the British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association (BFREPA) have advised farmers high biosecurity standards are vital to prevent the disease spreading.
Rover Gooch, chief executive of BFREPA, said the association was very concerned about the growing outbreaks.
“As it is thought ILT is mainly spread via poultry litter, members should be vigilant around the movement and spreading of muck and litter in their vicinity:” he added.
UFU deputy president William Irvine said that ILT is extremely infectious with symptoms and can have a significant impact on a farm business, creating financial implications.