Event Report

Base data

Event code BH-AFL/01495/AUS
Main category Biology Hazard
Sub category avian flu
Event date (UTC) Mon, 03 Aug 2020 07:28:02 +0000
Last update (UTC) Thu, 20 Aug 2020 08:15:53 +0000


Continent Australia - New-Zealand
Country Australia
Administration area State of Victoria
Settlement Lethbridge
Exact location
Open Location Code: 4RJ624MQ+XV
Size of affected area County-level
Additional events None or not detected.

Common Alerting Protocol Information

Urgency Past
Certainty Observed
Severity Extreme
Category Health

Event details

As if Victoria didn’t have enough to deal with right now with the second wave of coronavirus now a case of bird flu has been discovered at a Victorian chicken farm. Health officials have advised the farm is under quarantine and there is no risk to the public. Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Graeme Cooke said a 5km radius protection zone had been placed around the farm and it is in quarantine. Workers and biosecurity officers are managing the situation, he added. The bird flu primarily affects birds. However, like the coronavirus, the virus has made the jump from birds to humans. Similar to COVID-19, bird flu symptoms start off like common flu such as cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, and shortness of breath. Birds and their eggs on the free-range farm near Lethbridge, in rural Victoria, have tested positive for H7N7 avian influenza virus. There is currently no risk of contracting bird flu from any food supplied by the farm, Dr. Cooke assured Victorians. “All pigeon races, bird shows, and bird sales in the areas around the quarantined property should be canceled,” he said in a statement. “To control the spread of avian influenza, birds on the affected property are being destroyed.” The state’s Department of Health and Human Services said the H7N7 virus was “not a risk to the public as it rarely affects humans unless there is direct and close contact with sick birds”.

Situation update

Almost half a million birds have been infected with bird flu after outbreaks at four Victorian farms. The first infections were detected at a farm in Lethbridge, 95km southwest of Melbourne on July 31, followed by outbreaks at two more Lethbridge farms at the beginning of August. A fourth poultry farm near Bairnsdale, 280km east of Melbourne, was also infected on August 10. Now around 450,000 birds are thought to be affected as authorities rush to contain the highly contagious disease. Health authorities have quarantined the four sites and are working to 'depopulate' the affected birds before the end of the week. Turkeys from the first Lethbridge farm are thought to be responsible for the spread of the virus. All poultry at the site has been destroyed. Victoria's Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Graeme Cooke said two strains of the virus, H7N7 and H5N2 had been detected. He confirmed that the most viral, the H7N7 strain, was found at two farms in Lethbridge. 'Highly pathogenic strains, like the H7N7 that was recently detected in Golden Plains Shire, cause severe clinical signs and high death rates among poultry,' he said. 'However, we have now also detected a low pathogenic H5N2 strain. This typically causes much reduced clinical signs in comparison.' The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services confirmed neither virus is a risk to the public unless there is 'direct and close contact with sick birds'. There are also no food safety issues because properly cooked poultry meat and eggs are still safe to eat. Despite the low risk to people, movement controls were put in place within a 2km area of the Bairnsdale farm while the restricted area in Lethbridge remains in place. Dr Cook said Agriculture Victoria would step up its surveillance activities within the Golden Plains Shire control area to help contain the virus. Agriculture Victoria is actively investigating the connection between the two premises and further surveillance activities may be required,' he said. 'These controls prohibit the movement of birds, related equipment and products within and out of the designated Control Area unless a permit for movement has been granted by Agriculture Victoria until further notice.' Both strains of the virus affect chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants and ostriches. Many species of wild birds, including waterfowl and seabirds, can also carry the virus without any symptoms. Dr Cooke said the outbreaks were a reminder to all bird owners, however many birds they have, to always practice good biosecurity. He also encouraged bird owners not to allow wild birds to mix with domestic birds where possible. Australia has previously experienced incursions of avian influenza viruses which were successfully eradicated.
A second egg farm near Lethbridge has tested positive for avian influenza. Agriculture Victoria said the farm is within the existing Restricted Area and has been under movement restrictions and regular surveillance which has helped identify and contain the disease. An expanded Restricted Area that provides a buffer zone around the newly identified farm has been put in place, meaning the movement of poultry, birds, related equipment and products within and out of the designated Control Area of Golden Plains Shire is banned unless a permit has been granted by Agriculture Victoria until further notice. It comes after the first egg farm tested positive for bird flu on Friday, with the birds destroyed. Both properties will remain under quarantine without birds until all requirements are met for restocking. Bird flu is highly contagious for poultry, but it rarely affects humans unless there is direct and close contact. You also can't catch the virus by eating chicken meat or eggs or through contact with other infected people. Members of the public who have had contact with birds and experience cold or flu symptoms should seek medical advice, while those who live or work on the affected properties have been provided with specific advice and are being followed up by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).


Number of dead: 0 person(s)
Number of injured: 0 person(s)
Number of Affected: 0 person(s)
Number of Rescued/evacuated: 0 person(s)
Number of Missing: 0 person(s)
Number of Infected: 0 person(s)

Event Specific Details

[Biology Hazard - avian flu]
Name of diseaseA/H7N7
Biosafety levelLevel 3 - Hight
Infection statusconfirmed
Additional information

Overview map

Risk Analisys

Nearest marine ports Geelong (28.60 km)
Nearest airports Avalon Airport (30.01 km)
Nearest nuclear power plant There is no known nuclear power plant nearby.

Country Information