H7N7 bird flu strain detected on Victorian farm and hundreds of thousands of chickens culled

Hundreds of thousands of birds have been culled at a Victorian egg farm after bird flu was detected.

The property near Meredith, in the state’s west, is under quarantine and testing has revealed the strain of the disease is H7N7, which is the most common variant in Australia.

Agriculture Victoria said the detection was the result of investigations into poultry deaths on the farm.

The confirmation comes amid fears of a global bird flu outbreak following widespread detection of the H5N1 strain abroad.

Victoria’s chief veterinary officer, Graeme Cooke, said bird flu was present in Australian wild birds and “from time to time spread to the domestic bird population”.

“We are implementing all the requirements to prevent it from spreading further and eliminate the possibility of it spreading further,” he said.

“This area (near the detection) does have a high density of poultry businesses, both egg-laying and meat.

“Poultry farmers, backyard flocks and bird owners are urged to report any cases of unexplained bird deaths to the 24-hour animal disease emergency hotline on 1800 675 888, or to their local veterinarian.”

A poultry farm seen from afar.

Movement restrictions have been put in place in a bid to control an outbreak of bird flu.(ABC News: Rochelle Kirkham)

Global outbreak

Avian influenza is a highly contagious virus that affects bird species and some variants can spread to other species, including humans.

Aware , updated