Avian Influenza Detected In Victoria

Senator the Hon Murray Watt
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

The Australian Government has enacted its emergency animal disease response plans to support the Victorian Government as it leads the response to detection of high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) at an egg farm near Meredith.

Testing has confirmed the outbreak is an H7 strain, ruling out the strain of avian influenza (H5) that is currently causing concern globally.

The farm has been placed under quarantine and Agriculture Victoria are providing on-the-ground support.

The CSIRO Australian Centre of Disease Preparedness is carrying out further tests.

This morning the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases met to discuss immediate response plans and the National Emergency Animal Disease Management Group will meet tomorrow.

The Australian Government has been preparing for a possible avian flu outbreak for some time, with Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry recently leading two national workshops to refine response coordination activity for HPAI.

These meetings brought together representatives from Commonwealth and state and territory government agencies and other bodies to ensure national preparedness actions are coordinated between the animal and human health and environmental sectors.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said while it was a relief this is not the new strain that is affecting other countries like the United States and Antarctica, Australia takes any incident of high pathogenicity avian influenza in Australia extremely seriously

“My department today enacted its emergency animal disease response plan to support Victoria’s response to this incident,” Minister Watt said.

“Australia has effective, nationally-agreed response and cost-sharing arrangements in place to address animal disease incursions and outbreaks, and this has swung into action to support Victoria.

“Australia is well practiced in responding to disease incidents in poultry and has successfully responded to eight outbreaks of HPAI in poultry since 1976.

“In all those cases, we were able to eradicate the disease successfully and rapidly with minimal spread between farms.

“Our hearts go out to the affected farmer and the community at this time.

“It is a timely reminder to all poultry and bird owners to follow best biosecurity practices and report any suspicious deaths immediately to the national hotline.”

Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Beth Cookson said that Victoria would carry out response activities within its borders.

“I am working closely with the Victorian Chief Veterinary Officer and the Commonwealth will provide necessary support to control infection rapidly,” Dr Cookson said.

“I have been impressed by the speed at which the Victorian Government has acted to respond. They are on-the-ground and actively managing this issue.

“The risk to human health remains low and consumers can have confidence eggs and poultry products at the supermarket are safe to consume.

“Biosecurity is a shared responsibility and I encourage everyone to report any suspicious bird deaths to Emergency Animal Disease Hotline 1800 675 888.”

Fast Facts:

  • Australia’s nationally agreed AUSVETPLAN Response Strategy for Avian Influenza is available at animalhealthaustralia.com.au.
  • National emergency animal disease response arrangements involves convening the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases and the National Emergency Animal Disease Management Group.

/Public Release. View in full here.