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Another 87,000 Birds to be Culled as More Cases of Bird Flu Found in Australian State

This is on top of 240,000 birds that will be impacted after the first case of H7N8 was discovered in NSW.

Bird flu has been detected at a second farm in the Hawkesbury region of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia.

The High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) strain H7N8 was discovered amid “proactive surveillance” from the government’s biosecurity incident response team.

On June 19, the NSW government announced the first case of avian flu at a Hawkesbury egg farm and activated an “emergency biosecurity incident plan.”

Now, the CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) has confirmed another case about 1.5 kilometres from the original infected farm site.

NSW Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty said the biosecurity plan is working and they’ve been able to “quickly survey, test and detect another site” due to rapid responses.

“This is the same virus as the nearby site in Hawkesbury, which is however different to the virus impacting seven farms in Victoria. Importantly, testing has shown that the NSW cases are not H5N1 strain that is causing concern globally,” she said.

“This type of avian influenza is highly infectious in commercial poultry and it was always a possibility that we could detect sites within the control zone. The Government will continue its testing at sites.”

She added the government’s biosecurity team is working closely with the industry using well-established national response arrangements to manage the outbreak and has advised the industry.

‘No Risk to Human Consumption’: Premier

In a press conference on June 23, NSW Premier Chris Minns reassured the public not to worry, while noting the government is being cautious.

“I don’t think that there’s a need to unnecessarily worry people about this particular strain of bird flu in the community he told media at a press conference.

“The firm advice from health authorities is that there’s no risk to human consumption. But we have to be careful. It’s certainly something that the government is focused on.”

Discussing food safety, Ms. Moriarty added eggs and poultry meat are safe to eat if they are handled and cooked according to safe food handling practices.

Head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute Professor Raina MacIntyre pointed out Australia has experienced H7 outbreaks in the past, but the 2024 situation is “unprecedented.”

“So in Victoria we’ve had the H7N3 and H7N9 and the ones in NSW are H7N8. So they are all H7’s, and you know Australia has had H7 type outbreaks from 1976 onwards but only a few,” she said on ABC World Today on June 24.

“What we are seeing in 2024 is actually quite unprecedented compared to what has historically been seen in Australia.”

87,000 More Birds to Be Euthanised

Another 87,000 birds will culled in what the government calls a “depopulation process” under the supervision of biosecurity officers.

This comes after it was revealed nearly a quarter of a million birds will be killed after the first case of avian influenza was detected in NSW following confirmation from the CSIRO National Research Laboratory.

Meanwhile, more than one million birds also had to be euthanised in Victoria to halt the spread of bird flu.

A seventh case of high pathogenicity H7N3 strain bird flu was confirmed at a commercial egg farm in Victoria on June 17. This is a different strain to that detected in NSW.

Agriculture Victoria advised all poultry at the property Golden Plains Shire would be “humanely disposed of” under veterinary supervision.

Victorian chief veterinary officer Graeme Cooke thanked the producers within the restricted and control areas for their help.

“Movement restrictions are expected to be in place for several weeks, and we’re working with industry to support poultry farmers with the logistical challenges they’re facing,” Victoria chief veterinary officer Graeme Cooke said.

Meanwhile, Food Standards Australia New Zealand recently advised avian influenza is not a food safety concern and it is safe to eat properly handled and cooked chicken meat, eggs and egg products.

CEO Dr. Sandra Cuthbert said Australia’s world-class biosecurity and food regulation systems ensure the safety of the food supply.

“Farms affected by bird flu have been quarantined and the movement of animals and products restricted,” she said in a media release.

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