Regulatory H7 Bird Flu Discovered on Fourth Poultry Farm in...

H7 Bird Flu Discovered on Fourth Poultry Farm in Australia

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The government of Victoria in Australia announced that a highly virulent variant of avian influenza had been found on a fourth chicken farm near Melbourne. This farm is located close to two other sites where the virus had previously been found.

The farm revealed the discovery of the H7N3 strain of the virus, a variant distinct from the H5N1 form that has spread globally among bird and animal populations and has even affected humans. As of now, three farms near Meredith have reported instances of H7N3, and an additional farm near Terang, about an hour and a half to the east, has been contaminated with the H7N9 variant.

The state government declared that it would cull all the poultry at the affected farms and dispose of them. The total number of birds culled would be in the hundreds of thousands, which is a very small percentage of the overall bird population in Australia. The infected farms have been placed under quarantine, and authorities have imposed mobility restrictions in the surrounding areas. To reduce the likelihood of their birds coming into contact with wild birds that might transmit the virus, local bird owners are required to cage their birds.

According to the government, Australia has experienced nine outbreaks of highly infectious avian influenza since 1976, excluding this one. All of these outbreaks have been managed and eliminated by the authorities. Officials have assured the public that there is no danger associated with the consumption of eggs and chicken meat.

This news comes just a few days after the third Australian poultry farm fell victim to the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak. In addition, Japan, South Korea, and India have also officially registered similar cases.

In the third Australian case, the H7N3 serotype of the HPAI virus was found in birds at the table egg farm run by Farm Pride Foods in Lethbridge. This was the same virus linked to two previous outbreaks in Australia, the first of which was at a Meredith farm. According to the official report sent to the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), this began in mid-May and led to the deaths of 3,000 of the over 400,000 hens housed at the affected facilities in Meredith. This was the first time the H7N3 virus was found in Victoria, and the origin of the disease was not understood then.

The third outbreak in Lethbridge was estimated to have occurred in a flock of around 80,000 free-range chickens, which accounts for approximately 8% of Farm Pride Foods’ entire hen population. The firm also tested an additional 40,000 birds in the Lethbridge region for the presence of HPAI.

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