Bird Flu fears abate in Cork

Fears that County Cork could be at risk of a potentially deadly outbreak of bird flu have been abated.

A number of pheasants found at a gun club in Clonakilty, West Cork were last week discovered to have avian influenza, sparking a panic that they could have the deadly H5N1 virus, that can be passed to humans, with lethal consequences.

Concerned government officials at one point placed a one kilometer restriction zone around the site while tests were carried out, though it has since been confirmed that although stricken with the flu, the birds did not have the killer variety that caused worldwide panic several years ago.

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The government's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine performed the lab tests as the country waited with baited breath, yet they announced the flu was a "low pathogenic" strain of the virus that poses no risk to humans. The pheasants in question, and a number of other birds in the area were slaughtered as a precautionary measure.

A spokesman for the Department said: "In addition, laboratory results from a broiler flock in the same area tested negative for avian influenza, indicating that the virus has not spread."

They also stressed there were no health risks in terms of the consumption of poultry products, to the relief of local farmers. Ireland is still counting the cost from the last health scare in 2008, when the pork industry was faced with crisis over dioxin contamination.

The scare led to Irish pork products being removed from supermarket shelves as the overall economy crumbled due to the financial crisis.