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Bird flu outbreaks in Victoria, Australia impact free-range, caged and barn laid layer farms

21 September 2020, at 1:30am

Victoria, Australia continues to struggle with avian influenza outbreaks, according to reports.

As of September 4 and according to the State of Victoria, Australia, avian influenza virus had been confirmed at four farms near Lethbridge, one near Bairnsdale and one emu farm near Kerang.

Three different strains of avian influenza virus have been identified across the six farms in Victoria:

  • three eggs farms with highly pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza
  • two turkey farms with low pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza
  • one emu farm diagnosed with low pathogenic H7N6 avian influenza.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer has extended the Housing of Livestock clause (housing order) to 26 September 2020. All poultry owners within the Golden Plains Shire Restricted and Control Areas — even those with just two or three chickens or birds — are legally required to keep their birds enclosed.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the H7N7, and H7N6 and H5N2 strains are not a risk to the public as they rarely affect humans unless there is direct and close contact with sick birds. There are no food safety issues identified; properly cooked chicken meat and eggs are safe to eat.

Surveillance

Agriculture Victoria has scaled up surveillance and tracing efforts to determine other at-risk properties and contain the risk. They continue to sample birds throughout the Restricted Areas.

Report sick or dead birds in Golden Plains or near Bairnsdale to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 to help track and contain the virus.

Restricted and Control Area Orders and movement permits

A permit from Agriculture Victoria is required for the movement of domestic birds, bird products and equipment into, out of or within the Restricted Area or Control Areas within Golden Plains Shire, near Bairnsdale and near Kerang. The permit is for buying, selling or moving eggs, manure and chickens, whether on the side of the road, from your property, your local store, online or at markets. It is illegal to move these products without a permit.

View the Restricted and Control Area Orders

All pigeon races, bird shows and bird sales in the Restricted and Control Areas must be cancelled.

For further information, visit disease information advice — avian flu. Poultry farmers, and backyard flock and bird owners are urged to report any cases of unexplained bird deaths to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888, to your local vet or to Agriculture Victoria animal health staff.