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Avian flu detected at emu farm near Kerang

By Country News

Avian flu has been detected at two more properties, including an emu farm near Kerang.

Victoria's chief veterinary officer Dr Graeme Cooke said Agriculture Victoria was acting swiftly to contain the outbreaks which also include another egg farm in the Golden Plains Shire.

The new detections bring the total number of affected farms to six since the first farm detection on July 31.

The emu farm near Kerang reported sick birds to Agriculture Victoria and subsequent testing has confirmed low pathogenic H7N6 avian influenza.

This is a different strain of avian influenza than is currently impacting poultry farms in Golden Plains Shire and is not linked to previous cases of avian influenza.

The property has about 8000 farmed emus and is under quarantine with a restricted area of 2 km and a control area of 5 km now in place around the farm.

“Avian influenza viruses occur naturally among wild birds and can be difficult to detect as they may not show signs but can cause infections in our domestic bird populations,” Dr Cooke said.

“These detections are a reminder for bird owners to be vigilant: follow restrictions and movement controls for Restricted and Control Areas, monitor your birds’ health, and have in place best biosecurity practices at your property.”

“The Golden Plains egg farm has been placed under quarantine after being confirmed as having high pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza. It has about 37,000 birds on site within the existing restricted area.”

Dr Cooke said Agriculture Victoria has been undertaking regular surveillance at the property as part of its response to avian influenza in the high-risk area, which has allowed for the rapid identification and containment of the disease at an early stage.

He said the new detection requires a revision to the existing restricted area, Golden Plains Shire, but the control area remains the same size spanning the Golden Plains Shire.

There are three farms in Golden Plains Shire that have been confirmed to have high pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza detected in their birds, and one farm in Golden Plains Shire and another near Bairnsdale confirmed to have low pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza.

Avian influenza (sometimes known as ‘bird flu’) is a highly contagious disease that predominantly affects chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants and ostriches.

Many species of wild birds, including waterfowl and seabirds, can also carry the virus without symptoms, but occasionally it spills over into domestic poultry populations causing significant amounts of death.

The public is encouraged to report sick or dead birds, especially in the Golden Plains Shire, Kerang or near Bairnsdale areas, to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Dr Cooke said movement controls of domestic birds, bird products or equipment, into, out of or within the Restricted and Control Areas in each of the three locations, is not allowed without a permit from Agriculture Victoria.

In addition to the movement controls, a housing order remains in place for Golden Plains Shire requiring all bird owners (pet, backyard and commercial) in the area to house or keep them in an enclosure for a minimum of 30 days from August 7.

If you have pet birds or backyard hens or flocks in the Restricted or Control Areas near Kerang, Bairnsdale or in Golden Plains Shire, you must observe all associated restrictions.

For more information on movement controls and protective measures visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/avianflu or call (03) 4334 2715.