Confirmed case of highly contagious avian flu detected in NSW farm

Jessica WangNewsWire
The poultry egg farm was placed into immediate lock down after a case of the highly contagious bird flu was detected. iStock.
Camera IconThe poultry egg farm was placed into immediate lock down after a case of the highly contagious bird flu was detected. iStock. Credit: Supplied

The highly contagious avian flu has been detected at a poultry egg farm in NSW, sending the farm into immediate lockdown, as the state enacts its emergency biosecurity measures.

The detection was made at a property in the Hawkesbury district, about 50km from the Sydney CBD, with official testing from the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness confirming the virus as High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI).

However the H7N8 strain is not linked to the current virus plaguing seven farms in Victoria, and believed to be a separate spill-over event, or even from wild birds.

NSW Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty said the state will now enact the its Emergency Animal Disease response, which will place the farm in quarantine to prevent the further spread of the disease.

“High pathogenic diseases spread quickly and have a high mortality rate among poultry birds, which is why there has been an immediate lock down of the farm,” she said.

“A formal control order will be declared this afternoon that will extend biosecurity control to a radius of 1-2 kilometres around the farm site.”

Free Range Hens Feeding
Camera IconThe confirmed case of avian flu was found on a farm in the Hawkesbury district. iStock Credit: Supplied

She said the government’s Biosecurity Incident Management Team was liaising with the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases, and the National Emergency Animal Disease Management Group to discuss the immediate next steps.

Ms Moriarty urged calm and said “NSW consumers should not be concerned about eggs and poultry products from the supermarkets”.

“This detection does not pose a risk to consumer health and the products are safe to consume, if they are handled and cooked as per standard food handling practices.

“The government will work closely with industry to reduce the risk of spread and minimise any impact on egg supply.”

Victorian authorities have confirmed more than one million farmed birds could be culled as a result of a large-scale outbreak of two strains of avian flu, H7N3, and H7N9, in Victoria.

The virus can infect all birds, including poultry like chickens, ducks and geese, as well as wild birds.

Most recently, HPAI was detected at a commercial egg farm in the Golden Plains Shire area, which was already in quarantine.

Agriculture Victoria said all poultry at the property will be humanely disposed of under veterinary supervision.

The outbreak has also resulted in supply chain issues, triggering Coles to implement two-per-limit buying limits on eggs.

Responding to the outbreak, NSW Nationals Leader Dugald Saunders said the detection of the virus was “hugely concerning”.

“(It) shows exactly why biosecurity was my number one focus when I was the agriculture minister,” he said.

He took aim at the government for not allocating new funding to biosecurity measures, with money from yesterday’s budget comprised of leftover funding from the previous financial year.

“The fact that this incursion has occurred the day after Labor committed no new biosecurity funding in the NSW budget, should set alarm bells ringing,” said Mr Saunders.

“Given the nature of this outbreak, it’s expected there will be some Commonwealth support, but Chris Minns, Daniel Mookhey and Tara Moriarty need to provide additional biosecurity funding to protect our primary producers moving forward.”

However Ms Moriarty argued Wednesday’s case confirmed NSW’s biosecurity system was effective.

“Detections like this demonstrate our biosecurity system and plan is working to detect incursions when they occur, and then taking swift action to contain, manage, eradicate, and decontaminate,” she said.

Originally published as Confirmed case of highly contagious avian flu detected in NSW farm

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