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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

Avian Flu in Australia

Between 31 July and 25 August 2020 there were three different strains of avian influenza detected across six commercial production farms in Victoria.

Waterbirds are identified as shorebirds and waders; ducks, swans, cormorants, waders, moorhens, geese, herons, ibis, grebe, plovers, curlews, oystercatchers, pelicans.

Biosecurity is a critically important aspect of our efforts to prevent, respond to and recover from pest and diseases that threaten our economy, environment, and our agricultural industries, which underpins our unique way of life that we enjoy in Australia. All this is vital to our communities wherever we live and we all need to be aware of it. There have been a number of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Australian poultry in recent years, all in eastern Australia. All outbreaks were eradicated and no people were affected. None of these outbreaks involved the H5N1 strain. The source of the outbreaks is thought to be water or feed contaminated by wild birds infected with low pathogenic avian influenza, which subsequently mutated to a highly pathogenic strain.

The AVIX Autonomic used throughout Australia, Europe and the US to manage risk of contamination on farms and irrigation supply from wild bird populations. Fit-for-purpose, the AVIX Autonomic is like no other, has been the point of difference saving many properties from potential biosecurity and compliance issues. The cost benefit of investing in world class proven bird deterrent tech is a no brainer.

Did you know that Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development carries out surveillance of waterbirds annually for avian influenza? This monitoring reveals that low pathogenic avian influenza circulates in waterbirds without the birds showing signs of disease.

Low pathogenic avian influenza has occasionally occurred within farmed birds in Australia and has been quickly controlled under national protocols (AUSVETPLAN). There have been seven outbreaks since 1980, which have an immediate stop effect on international markets.

The question is how could of this been prevented in the first place?

Wild waterbirds are the natural reservoir of avian influenza viruses. Infected birds spread the virus through their faeces and nasal and eye discharges.

Domestic birds can catch avian influenza by:

  • direct contact with an infected bird

  • contamination of water or food by infected birds

  • contact with people, equipment, vehicles, shoes or clothing contaminated by infected birds.

The following simple biosecurity measures can help prevent disease outbreaks:

  • do not allow your birds to have any contact with wild birds

  • implement a pest bird management plan

  • ensure your birds’ water supply is not contaminated by wild birds or other animal waste. Water from rain, dams or rivers must be chlorinated before use

  • ensure food is not contaminated by wild birds or other animal waste

  • control rodents

  • quarantine new birds

  • limit visitors to your birds. Ensure visitors have clean hands, clothing and footwear, and cover their hair

  • restrict employees from having contact with any birds outside of work

  • keep equipment and poultry yards clean

  • locate poultry sheds and aviaries away from wild waterbirds

  • wash hands before and after handling birds.

Farms and growers should continue to take biosecurity threats very seriously, this is essential as our local product needs to be protected. The penalties for biosecurity risk-taking are high, and the impact on our farmers and environment even higher. Maggie Beer

information supplied by:

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Western Australia

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