Highly pathogenic bird flu hits Australia

Two separate outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris, putting poultry producers in Australia and South East Asia on a state of high alert.

The most recent case involved an egg farm in New South Wales, Australia, where some 18,000 birds out of 435,000 on a free-range and cage unit have died. Depopulation of the remaining birds has begun.

A 1km restricted zone has been set up around the unit, plus a wider 10km control area, with movement restrictions and screening. Vaccination has also been prohibited.

The state veterinary department has confirmed that the strain is the highly pathogenic H7N2 and has suggested that the most likely cause is to have been infection from wild ducks on or near the property.

In a separate outbreak, some 370 birds have died of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of the disease on a chicken and duck farm in northern Vietnam, with another 805 destroyed. This is the strain that hit Europe and the UK in 2006.

There will be weekly follow-up reports submitted to the OIE.

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