Further steps to reduce risk of avian influenza in Victoria

The egg industry is adopting additional measures to prevent the spread of avian influenza in Victoria with a housing order for poultry being implemented by Agriculture Victoria.

The housing order applies to the Control Areas that have been established around the impacted egg farms in Meredith and Terang and will ensure that poultry is protected from possible contamination in range areas.

The housing order is in addition to the movement controls for the Restricted and Control Areas currently in place. These controls assist with containment and tracing of the virus to prevent further spread.

Testing has now confirmed that initial incident involves the H7N3 high pathogenic strain of avian influenza (AI) virus and the second incident involves H7N9. These high pathogenic strains are likely to have mutated from low pathogenic avian influenza which are endemic in wild bird population in Australia.

“Implementing a housing order at this stage is a responsible step” said Australian Eggs Managing Director, Rowan McMonnies, adding “farmers and everyone that owns poultry in Australia has a role to play in the protection of their birds”.

“We won’t have a clear sense of the risk of exposure to the virus for a few weeks and housing birds is the best form of protection, particularly when the source of infection is still being investigated.”

McMonnies also said “The loss of hens from these current incidents is significant and devastating for the farms involved. It is reassuring that the impact has been contained to a small portion of the national flock which all contribute the to the supply of 18.9 million eggs that are consumed each day”.

/Public Release. View in full here.