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Bird Flu Confirmed at Second Hawkesbury Farm

Jun 23, 2024

More than 320,000 chickens will be destroyed in the Hawkesbury region this week to prevent the spread of bird flu, following confirmation of the disease at a second poultry farm.

The CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness confirmed the presence of the H7N8 strain at the second property, NSW Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty said on Saturday.

The affected farm lies within a restricted biosecurity zone, just 1.5km from the initially infected farm in Freemans Reach where the virus was first detected on Wednesday. The two strains found in Hawkesbury are identical but differ from the virus affecting farms in Victoria.

Authorities estimate it will take up to a week to cull 240,000 birds at the first farm and approximately 87,000 birds at the second.

Moriarty emphasised that the H7N8 strain found in NSW is not the H5N1 strain causing global concern.

“Proactive surveillance from the NSW Government’s Biosecurity Incident Response team has confirmed a second case of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on a poultry farm within the Hawkesbury biosecurity control zone,” Moriarty said. “The CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness has verified a positive result for HPAI H7N8. This farm is located within the restricted zone, 1.5km from the first infected site identified on June 19. The virus here is different from the one impacting farms in Victoria. Importantly, the NSW cases are not the H5N1 strain causing global concern.”

The Minister stated that the swift response from biosecurity teams enabled rapid surveying, testing, and detection of the second site, which had been locked down since June 19.

“This type of avian influenza is highly infectious in commercial poultry, and detecting sites within the control zone was always a possibility. The Government will continue testing at various sites,” she added.

The biosecurity team is collaborating closely with the poultry industry under established national response protocols to manage the outbreak. Moriarty acknowledged the industry’s cooperation, which has been crucial in handling the situation.

Eggs and poultry meat remain safe for consumption if handled and cooked properly. The culling process, overseen by biosecurity officers, will take around seven days to complete and affect approximately 87,000 birds.

Authorities urge the public to report any sick or dead birds, including domestic poultry or wild birds, by calling the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline at 1800 675 888.

 

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