By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Agriculture Victoria is responding to an outbreak of Avian influenza H7N7 at a free-range egg farm, at Lethbridge in Victoria.

Image/OpenClipart-Vectors

Avian influenza is a serious disease of poultry, and can cause a high mortality rate in production birds.

This disease was reported when a drop in egg production was observed, and high bird mortality rates occurred in one of the poultry sheds.

Samples were submitted to Agriculture Victoria on 29 July 2020 where they tested positive for Avian influenza H7. The CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness confirmed the disease as highly pathogenic avian influenza H7N7 on 31 July.

The property has been quarantined and movement controls are in place to stop any birds, eggs and equipment from leaving the premises. A Restricted Area is in place around the property, and a Control Area across a wider area has also been created.

Agriculture Victoria will be in contact with property owners in the vicinity of the infected property, and will conduct further surveillance and sampling of domestic birds in this area.

The Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases met on 31 July 2020 and discussed the response plan put forward by Agriculture Victoria. The committee agreed that the disease is technically feasible to eradicate, and this recommendation was put to the National Management Group (NMG) on 1 August.  NMG endorsed this recommendation and Victoria’s response plan for this incident.

The premises will be depopulated in line with the Avian Influenza AUSVETPLAN, and this is due to commence on 1 August.

Australia has previously had a small number of outbreaks of H7 Avian Influenza which were all quickly and successfully eradicated.

Avian influenza, otherwise known as ‘bird flu’ or ‘AI’, is a type of influenza virus that can cause high numbers of deaths in birds. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed that this strain of AI is not a risk to the public as it rarely affects humans unless there is direct and close contact with sick birds.