Australia Detects Bird Flu in Victorian Egg Farm, Plunging Area to Lockdown Amid Fears Strain Could be Similar to What Causes Mass Poultry Deaths Worldwide

By Jose Resurreccion

May 22, 2024 01:05 AM EDT

Bird Flu Detected at Australian Egg Farm, Authorities Urge Bird Owners to be Proactive

(Photo : MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Avian influenza has been detected in an egg farm located in the Australian state of Victoria.

According to a statement from Agriculture Victoria on Wednesday (May 22), the strain of the disease has been discovered at an egg farm near Meredith, south of Ballarat, and they are investigating a number of poultry deaths there. 

The department added that samples of the discoveries have since been delivered to the Australian Center for Disease Preparedness based in Geelong and that the property has been placed into quarantine. 

Victoria's chief veterinarian, Graeme Cooke, said that Agriculture Victoria staff were at the farm and asked poultry farmers to contact the department once they discovered unexplained bird deaths.

Australian Bird Owners Are Urged to be Proactive

As a result of the discovery, Agriculture Victoria urged poultry and bird owners to practice biosecurity procedures, such as cleaning poultry sheds, yards, aviaries, and equipment at all times and preventing poultry from making contact with wild birds. 

Authorities added that bird owners should ensure that their footwear is clean, practice proper hygiene before, during, and after handling birds or eggs, and quarantine new birds before integrating them with flocks. 

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Bird Flu Spreads Worldwide

Australian public broadcaster ABC reported that avian influenza, a highly contagious virus affecting bird species, could spread to other species, including humans, due to its multiple strains and types. 

The last time Australia detected bird flu was in 2020 when it was also found in Victoria, particularly on an egg farm south of Ballarat. The 2020 discovery resulted in multiple outbreaks across the state, leading to the destruction of tens of thousands of farmed birds.

Aside from Australia, multiple bird flu outbreaks are detected worldwide, even in Antarctica.

University of Queensland virologist Kristy Short said it was vital to discover what variant had been detected since Australia was the final continent to be free of the highly contagious H5N1 strain, which could particularly spread into dairy cattle and even humans, as it did in the United States.

READ MORE: Biden Administration Unveils $200 Million Funding to Address Bird Flu Outbreaks Within Dairy Farms

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