Home Sydney Avian Flu Outbreak Expands to New Species in Australia

Avian Flu Outbreak Expands to New Species in Australia

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Australia’s avian flu crisis has extended its reach to a previously unaffected species. After three weeks of containment among egg-laying chickens, authorities confirmed on Thursday evening that the virus has now infiltrated a duck farm.

The highly contagious H7N3 strain has surfaced at six farms across Victoria, leading to the culling of hundreds of thousands of birds. This outbreak has also disrupted egg supplies, prompting Coles supermarkets to impose a temporary purchase limit of two cartons per customer nationwide (except Western Australia).

Distinct from the H5N1 variant affecting numerous mammal species and birds, the current H7N3 outbreak has remained confined to poultry. However, unlike H7N3, H5N1 has sporadically infected humans, with a recent case involving a returning traveler from India reported in March.

Dr. Jenna Guthmiller, a virologist, cautioned about the uncontrolled spread of H5N1 in the United States, highlighting the potential for a pandemic if the virus mutates further. McMaster University’s Associate Professor Matthew Miller echoed concerns, noting the virus’s adaptability and early signs of animal-to-human transmission.

Efforts to contain the avian flu include movement restrictions in Victoria’s Terang, Meredith, and Lethbridge areas. Permits are now mandatory for transporting birds, poultry products, feed, and equipment within these zones to curb further spread.

Despite the stringent measures, concerns remain about the virus’s persistence in the environment. Authorities reassure consumers that supermarket poultry products remain safe for consumption, emphasizing continued vigilance and reporting of any unusual bird deaths to the VicEmergency Hotline.