Victorians Achieve National Freedom From Avian Influenza

26 February 2021

Australia is officially free from high pathogenic avian influenza, thanks to the hard work of Victorian poultry owners and biosecurity workers.

Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas today congratulated Victorians on achieving the outcome, which will benefit industry by allowing a return to normal business and will also allow trade to many export markets again.

In 2020, Victoria endured the largest ever outbreak of avian influenza on record in Australia. The outbreak involved six farms in three regions across the state testing positive between 31 July and 25 August, affecting three species with three different strains of the virus.

Those responding to or affected by the detections had the additional challenge of meeting COVIDSafe requirements while bringing the outbreak under control.

The response included movement restrictions for poultry, poultry products and equipment near the infected properties and a housing order – a first for Australia – where all domestic birds in Golden Plains Shire were required to be housed to limit the interaction with wild birds.

To prove freedom from avian influenza, work has included almost 1400 surveillance visits and 2700 surveillance text messages. Diagnostics and research at AgriBio, Agriculture Victoria’s research laboratory, have analysed 21,650 samples since the response began on 31 July 2020.

Restrictions remain near Bairnsdale with a very small Control Area for low pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza, which is expected to be lifted soon.

The response to avian influenza shows how the Andrews Labor Government is delivering best practice in managing risks and responding to new challenges, ensuring the protection and the future of our industry, as set out in the Agriculture Strategy.

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Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas

“This is a significant achievement and I congratulate poultry owners, the poultry industry, Agriculture Victoria and affected communities on their tremendous effort.”

“A world-class biosecurity system is so important in protecting our $6.7 billion livestock industries. We stand ready to respond to any pest or disease outbreak, securing our agriculture sector and protecting our environment.”

Reviewed 26 February 2021

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