After a rigorous and sustained effort across Australian governments and the poultry industry, the ACMF is pleased that Australia has today officially regained freedom from highly pathogenic avian influenza in accordance with international guidelines, published by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
This has been achieved through a successful eradication program managed by the Victorian Government across five infected poultry (egg) farms and one emu farm.
This avian influenza outbreak was the largest recorded in Australia and presented significant challenges. It also meant that trade restrictions were imposed by many overseas countries resulting in the loss of export markets for chicken meat products worth many millions of dollars.
The ACMF would particularly like to recognise the efforts and dedication of all of those involved in the Victorian response, which resulted in the outbreak being eradicated.
ACMF would also like to use this milestone as a reminder to keep biosecurity top of mind. Regardless of whether you are a commercial producer, or you only keep a few chickens in your backyard, you need biosecurity practices in place to protect your birds from disease.
POULTRY BIOSECURITY KEY POINTS:
- Restrict contact between your birds and wild birds. Contact with wild birds can be minimised by making outdoor areas around where chickens are housed less attractive to them – for example, by ensuring feed and water is only provided inside sheds, rather than in the open where wild birds will have easier access. Using fencing or netting for free-ranging birds are other options.
- Keep poultry sheds, yards and aviaries clean, including equipment. Clean thoroughly with a detergent before applying a disinfectant.
- Provide clean water. Keep your birds away from potentially contaminated water sources such as streams, dams, ponds and even puddles.
- Quarantine new birds for 14 days before introducing them to the resident flock.
- Limit visitors to your birds. Check if essential visitors have recently visited other premises where poultry is kept.
- If you attend bird shows, don’t allow your birds to mix directly with others.
- Always wash your hands before and after handling birds and eggs.
- Change into clean footwear before entering poultry or hen houses, to stop the potential transfer of disease from outside.
- Best practice farm hygiene and biosecurity practices are adopted in the Australian poultry industry and are standard practice. National biosecurity manuals outline these measures and are available at com.au (see https://www.farmbiosecurity.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/National-Farm-Biosecurity-Manual-for-Chicken-Growers_May2020.pdf for the biosecurity measures required in the commercial chicken meat industry).
- Importantly, report any sick or dead birds as a priority. This includes all domestic poultry or multiple wild birds. To do this, call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.