Avian influenza has been confirmed at a seventh farm in Victoria, with tests revealing the presence of the highly pathogenic H7N3 strain. 

The affected farm is a commercial egg operation within the restricted area in the Golden Plains Shire, where movement restrictions are already enforced. 

This latest confirmation continues the spread of the virus among poultry farms in the region.

Over a million birds at the infected property will be culled under veterinary supervision, following national policies to prevent further spread. The site will then undergo thorough cleaning and disinfection to eradicate the infection.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Graeme Cooke, has thanked producers within the restricted and control areas for their cooperation with Agriculture Victoria in testing and surveillance activities. 

He says movement restrictions are anticipated to remain for several weeks, with efforts underway to support poultry farmers through the logistical challenges posed by the outbreak.

Existing movement controls cover designated areas near Terang, Meredith, and Lethbridge, including restricted areas around affected farms and mandatory housing for all birds within these areas.

Permits are required for the movement of birds, poultry products, feed, and equipment within these zones. 

Poultry farmers and bird owners are urged to report unexplained bird deaths to the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

Despite the outbreak, consumers are being reassured that eggs and other poultry products remain safe to consume, and the secure supply chain, including interstate egg imports, has ensured that supplies are not significantly affected.

The avian influenza outbreak has also reached a commercial duck farm near Meredith, representing about two per cent of Australia’s commercial duck population. 

Globally, the H5N1 strain of bird flu has caused significant concern, affecting various mammals and humans. However, the strains detected in Victoria, H7N3 and H7N9, are different. 

Experts have warned that misinformation is spreading on social media about bird flu, even though the risk to human health in Australia remains low.