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Bird Flu in Hawkesbury

Thousands of birds at two Hawkesbury poultry farms have died since avian influenza was confirmed earlier this month.

The first case was at a Freemans Reach egg farm where 8,000 birds died in 48 hours after the virus was detected.

Biosecurity restrictions were placed around the farm as soon as the CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness confirmed a positive result for High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI H7N) on 19th June.

Just days later a second positive result for the same strain was detected at a second poultry farm located within the restricted biosecurity zone, 1.5km from the original infected farm site.

While the two viruses are the same in the Hawkesbury it is not the same virus that has hit seven poultry farms in Victoria or has been a global cause of concern.

Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty said the State Government’s biosecurity plan is working and because teams responded rapidly, teams were able to quickly survey, test and detect another site that had been locked down on Wednesday 19 June.

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.

Avian Influenza In Hawkesbury
Abc image of biosecurity staff at the second hawkesbury farm

The Government’s biosecurity team is working closely with the industry using wellestablished national response arrangements to manage the outbreak and has advised the industry.

The Minister acknowledged the support and collaboration of the industry, which increases the ability to manage this situation.

Eggs and poultry meat are safe to eat provided they are handled and cooked according to safe food handling practices.

She said: “We’ll continue our tracing work for anything that has come out of either of these farms for the last couple of weeks, just to make sure that there hasn’t been any spread.”

A total of 330,000 birds across the two farms are being culled and destroyed.

The quarantine area has been extended to protect surrounding farms. It is believed the highly contagious virus has been spread by wild birds.

The ACT Government is currently investigating a suspected case of Avian influenza which is believed to be the same strain as the Hawkesbury virus.

Transmission to humans is very rare, and unlikely unless there is direct and close contact with sick birds.

NSW and ACT are working together to deal with the biosecurity issue. People should report any sick or dead birds as a priority. This includes all domestic poultry or wild birds.

Call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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