Outbreak of fowl pest hits Lurgan

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IT was believed in May 1970, that up to 1,000 birds had been slaughtered due to an outbreak of fowl pest in the Lurgan Area.

Until this time three cases of the disease, which affects all species of birds, had been notified and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Order banning poultry show was to continue for a further month.

As a result the poultry section at the Lurgan Show had been cancelled as the show date fell within the period of restriction.

Symptoms of the disease included respiratory distress, diarrhoea, severe prostration and sudden death.

It was characterised by its sudden onset and rapid spread.

A Ministry veterinary officer told the ‘MAIL’ that it was too soon to say if the outbreak had been contained.

The two further cases notified involved exotic birds and bantams and in each instance there had been direct contact with the first case reported in the area.

The spokesman added that by definition in the order, the term poultry included pigeons.

Asked if there would be a ban on pigeon racing he said that at that stage the Ministry did not think such a course would be justified.

He said: “We have had no blood reaction in any tests we carried out, though the pigeons have been on premises where there were affected birds.

“In all outbreaks of disease, some birds or animals never show any symptoms of it, but where there has been contact, we cannot afford the luxury of waiting and seeing.”

Pigeons which had been in contact, though unaffected, were slaughtered too.

He added that at that time pigeons were not a particular danger.

Dr TG McNabb president of Lurgan Show Society told the ‘MAIL’ that the banning of the poultry section of the local show would not be a big disappointment but in the circumstances it was inevitable.

Dr McNabb said: “It is a blow to the people involved with that section and will mean one less attraction for visitors on Show Day but all the other events look as though they will have record entries.”

He did not anticipate any overall reduction in gate receipts or interest as a result.

Dr McNabb went on to say that by the beginning of the week, entries for the poultry section had been considerably more than at the same time the previous year.