17 October 2013
Action has been taken to control an outbreak of avian influenza H7N2 virus in a large flock of layer hens on a property near Young, New South Wales. Government and industry are working together to manage the disease.
The virus detected on this property is not the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has gained worldwide attention, nor the H7N9 strain that has been circulating throughout parts of Asia.
The New South Wales Food Authority has confirmed that there are no food safety issues; cooked poultry and eggs are safe for human consumption.
The National Management Group (NMG), comprising the Commonwealth and all State and Territory governments and the egg and chicken meat industries, agreed to a collaborative eradication program on 16 October 2013. It is expected that the disease will be eradicated at the site, as was done successfully in previous outbreaks during 2012.
All parties supported the eradication response for the affected property and the need for it to commence immediately. The property and bird owners are working with the Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales, to prepare for the humane destruction and disposal of the birds. Quarantine measures have already been put in place at the affected property, together with movement controls within a 1km radius restricted area and a 10km radius control area. Disease surveillance on other properties will continue in conjunction with the approved emergency animal disease response plan to demonstrate that the virus has not spread beyond the original premises.
The NMG decision to implement this program is evidence-based and recognises the economic benefit of eradication.
The eradication response will be conducted by the New South Wales government in accordance with the response plan agreed to under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (the deed). All parties acknowledged the importance of the deed in the national eradication response arrangements. It assisted in the facilitation of prompt decision making and shared funding across government and affected industries.
Some importing countries have certification requirements for avian influenza. The Australian Government Department of Agriculture will work with overseas trading partners to manage any market access issues for poultry, poultry products and eggs.
This incident is a timely reminder for all bird owners to use good biosecurity practices around their birds.
Further information on the response can be found on the NSW DPI website.