The following is a letter written by Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Mark Schipp and forwarded to the FCAQI by Biosecurity Queensland.

Dear Industry Member,

I am writing to inform you about significant developments in the spread of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza.
Australia remains free from this virus and the risk of an incursion in Australian poultry remains very low. Genetic studies of the more mild avian influenza viruses present in wild birds in Australia suggests that introductions of avian influenza viruses from Asia is an uncommon event. Nevertheless, these international developments serve as a reminder for us that diseases do not respect national borders.

This virus was detected in wild birds at a lake on the border between Mongolia and Russia in June 2016.
This virus has spread by wild birds to poultry in the following countries: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Russian Federation, and Iran in recent weeks.

What you can do:

  • report sick or dead birds – both wild birds and poultry – to a veterinarian, state/territory government department of primary industries or the Emergency animal Disease Hotline (1800 675 888). These should be tested for avian influenza viruses, Newcastle disease and other notifiable diseases.
  • Farmers and poultry producers should step up their biosecurity measures by referring to industry biosecurity manuals in order to prevent potential virus introduction from wild birds or their faeces.
  • It is important to keep poultry and other animals away from wild birds and their sub-products or droppings through screens, fencing or nets, and to restrict access of poultry to standing water.
  • Commercial poultry operations and backyard poultry owners should avoid the introduction of pathogens through contaminated clothes, footwear, vehicles or equipment in contact with other birds.

Mark Schipp
Chief Veterinary Officer (Australia)
OIE Delegate (Australia)
Vice-President OIE Assembly