SA poultry industry on flu watch

SA poultry industry on flu watch

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SA authorities are confident measures they have in place will prevent and contain any possible cases of avian influenza virus, stemming from outbreaks in Vic.

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SA authorities are confident measures they have in place will prevent and contain any possible cases of avian influenza virus, stemming from outbreaks in Vic.

The H7N7 strain of the virus was first detected at a free-range egg farm near Lethbridge, Vic, and has since been detected on at least six poultry farms, with more than 400,000 birds euthanised and multiple countries slapping a temporary ban on the import of Vic poultry.

An emu farm at Kerang, Vic, and egg farms in the Golden Plains shire south of Ballarat, Vic, were placed under quarantine in late August, with domestic and wild bird surveillance and testing ongoing in the region.

PIRSA chief veterinary officer Mary Carr said the SA poultry industry had already reviewed its biosecurity practices relating to movements to or from Vic.

"There are no known linkages between the affected properties in Vic and the SA poultry industry," she said.

"PIRSA is working with local industry to ensure awareness of the situation in Vic and advising producers to ensure adherence to on-farm biosecurity practices.

"If any suspected symptoms are detected in backyard or commercial poultry flocks, owners must immediately contact their local veterinarian or phone the Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888."

Signs of the disease include sudden death, coughing, sneezing or rasping, swelling and purple discolouration of the head, comb, wattles and neck, a rapid drop in eating, drinking and egg production, dopiness, closed eyes and diarrhoea.

Agriculture Vic described the disease as highly contagious and one that predominantly affected chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants and ostriches.

While many species of wild birds, including waterfowl and seabirds, can carry the virus, Dr Carr said the SA poultry industry practised good biosecurity to minimise the contact between wild birds and poultry.

"There are well practised and nationally agreed procedures, plans and arrangements in place to respond to animal disease incursions such as this," she said.

Australasian Turkey Federation president and Pooginagoric Free Range Turkeys owner John Watson said the outbreaks in Vic were concerning for the SA poultry industry, especially those partaking in free-range production.

"It's very concerning to anybody that has free-range poultry because it's spread by wild birds and that makes it difficult to contain," he said.

"One plus for us this year is, even though it's been a very good year, there's no dams or swamps full of water so there shouldn't be as many wild birds around."

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