450,000, chickens killed due to Bird Flu in Victoria, Australia #Chickens #BirdFlu #Victoria #Australia

Bird Flu

Almost half a million birds have been infected with bird flu after outbreaks at four Victorian farms.

The first infections were detected at a farm in Lethbridge, 95km southwest of Melbourne on July 31, followed by outbreaks at two more Lethbridge farms at the beginning of August.

A fourth poultry farm near Bairnsdale, 280km east of Melbourne, was also infected on August 10.

Now around 450,000 birds are thought to be affected as authorities rush to contain the highly contagious disease.

Health authorities have quarantined the four sites and are working to ‘depopulate’ the affected birds before the end of the week.

Turkeys from the first Lethbridge farm are thought to be responsible for the spread of the virus. All poultry at the site has been destroyed.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Graeme Cooke said two strains of the virus, H7N7 and H5N2 had been detected.

He confirmed that the most viral, the H7N7 strain, was found at two farms in Lethbridge.

‘Highly pathogenic strains, like the H7N7 that was recently detected in Golden Plains Shire, cause severe clinical signs and high death rates among poultry,’ he said.

‘However, we have now also detected a low pathogenic H5N2 strain. This typically causes much reduced clinical signs in comparison.’

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services confirmed neither virus is a risk to the public unless there is ‘direct and close contact with sick birds’.

There are also no food safety issues because properly cooked poultry meat and eggs are still safe to eat.

Despite the low risk to people, movement controls were put in place within a 2km area of the Bairnsdale farm while the restricted area in Lethbridge remains in place.

Dr Cook said Agriculture Victoria would step up its surveillance activities within the Golden Plains Shire control area to help contain the virus.

‘Agriculture Victoria is actively investigating the connection between the two premises and further surveillance activities may be required,’ he said.

‘These controls prohibit the movement of birds, related equipment and products within and out of the designated Control Area unless a permit for movement has been granted by Agriculture Victoria until further notice.’

Both strains of the virus affect chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants and ostriches.

Many species of wild birds, including waterfowl and seabirds, can also carry the virus without any symptoms.

Dr Cooke said the outbreaks were a reminder to all bird owners, however many birds they have, to always practice good biosecurity.

He also encouraged bird owners not to allow wild birds to mix with domestic birds where possible.

Australia has previously experienced incursions of avian influenza viruses which were successfully eradicated.

Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

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