Avian influenza H7N8 detected on Hawkesbury egg farm

Grain Central June 21, 2024

THE NEW South Wales Government has enacted its emergency biosecurity incident plan to contain the an H7N8 avian influenza outbreak on a poultry farm in Greater Sydney’s Hawkesbury district.

In a statement, NSW Department of Primary Industries Tara Moriarty said the outbreak does not pose a risk to consumer health, and egg and poultry products are safe for consumers.

The affected farm is described as a mixed barnyard and free-range poultry farm.

“This is a highly contagious and deadly virus and that’s why the NSW Government has acted swiftly and decisively in response to this detection,” Ms Moriarty said.

As of yesterday, 8000 birds at the farm had died from the flu in the previous 48 hours.

“We have acted and are rolling out our biosecurity incident plan, developed in line with the national approach for avian influenza.”

The statement said the following actions had been undertaken since Wednesday:

  • Samples tested by CSIRO to detect the bird flu type;
  • Affected egg farm locked down;
  • Control order issued to depopulate the farm of its birds and to dispose of the remains in a biosecure manner;
  • Depopulating the farm in a humane manner, and following Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) guidelines, in a process which will take up to 5-7 days to depopulate 240,000 birds;
  • Activation of the funding agreement with the Federal Government, egg industry, and other states, to release compensation funds for directly impacted producers;
  • Discussions with surrounding chicken farms, which have activated their bird flu plans and locked down their businesses.

“Today we will be issuing another control order to legally lock down movement of machinery, materials, animals and transport within a radius of 2km of the affected egg farm.

“The localised lockdown order will cover three large commercial poultry farms, and impacts up to 355,000 birds that we will monitor for any signs of the virus.

“There will be no movement of eggs or birds or machinery out of the zone during the control order.

The NSW chief veterinary officer, who is leading the incident response, yesterday met with key industry organisations to discuss next steps and align how they can work together.

“We are acting on this bird flu outbreak and will do everything to work through this challenging time for the egg and chicken meat industry.

“We have their backs.”

First NSW case since 2013

The AVA yesterday issued a statement saying this is the first detection of avian influenza in NSW since 2013.

“All three previous detections of avian influenza in NSW have been successfully eradicated,” the AVA said.

The AVA said there was no known connection to the current Victorian H7N3 outbreak.

“It is understood at this point to be a separate spill-over event, potentially from wild birds.

“In addition, the H7N8 strain detected in Greater Sydney is not the same as the globally circulating H5N1 strain that is causing mass poultry and wildlife mortalities overseas.”

Seven Victorian farms impacted

Agriculture Victoria is responding to the detection of avian influenza at seven Victorian poultry farms.

Six infected properties near Meredith are confirmed to have a high pathogenicity H7N3 strain of avian influenza, and one infected property near Terang is confirmed to have a high pathogenicity H7N9 strain.

A comprehensive surveillance program has been in place in the restricted and control areas in order to detect the presence of such viruses.

Restricted and control areas are in place surrounding all infected premises, within both the Golden Plains and Corangamite shires.

All properties have been placed in quarantine and all poultry will be safely and humanely disposed of. The sites will be cleaned and cleared of the infection.

Agriculture Victoria staff are on the ground supporting the affected properties and working closely with poultry owners and industry to contain and eradicate the virus.

Tracing is also under way to determine the source and spread of the infection.

Agriculture Victoria has issued movement controls that include a housing requirement for all birds within the restricted and control areas in Meredith/Lethbridge and Terang.

Under the housing requirement all poultry farmers, backyard flock and bird owners must house or keep their birds enclosed in cages or sheds.

The initial Victorian case was reported last month.

The egg industry is a major consumer of grain inputs, particularly wheat, canola meal, and sorghum.

Source: NSW Government, Australian Veterinary Association, Agriculture Victoria



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