Australia Reports Deadly H7 Bird Flu

A rustic barbeque chicken on a remote island off Caohagan Island

Australia's first outbreak of a highly pathogenic bird flu virus in 15 years should be contained by a cull of 50,000 chickens

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said all chickens at the property in Maitland, 160 km (100 miles) north of Sydney, will be destroyed after the H7 virus was detected last week.

The H7 strain is highly pathogenic to birds but is not related to the H5N1 strain, which was first detected in 1997 in Hong Kong and has since caused hundreds of human deaths.

DPI Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said the strain did not present any risks to food safety from poultry and eggs.

The owners of the infected farm have been quarantined as experts try to find the source of the virus, often wild birds.

Japan banned the import of poultry and eggs from Australia after the outbreak, the country's Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement late on Thursday.

Also, Japan imported 0.9 tonnes of meat in 2011 and 1.9 tonnes in the two years before. Imports of eggs totaled 2.1 tonnes in the three years through last year. Japan is asking Australian authorities to provide more details about the outbreak, the statement said.

Chicken Meat Federation executive director Andreas Dubs said most exports were for pet food, while chicken feet were exported to some countries where they are eaten by humans.

The Australian government's official commodities forecaster expects about 41,000 tonnes of chicken to be exported in the financial year to June 30, 2013.

Major export destinations are Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Vietnam and South Africa. Producers typically earn about AU$1 (US$1.03) per kilogram for chicken products.

Many countries, including Japan, have automatic measures to stop imports when there is an outbreak of avian influenza (AI) and they will be in discussions with Australian authorities to check if the outbreak is contained and exports can be restored.


One tonne is equivalent to:
  • One megagram (by definition);
    • megagram, Mg, is the official SI term, but rarely used; Mg is easily mistaken to be mg, milligram
  • 10000.453 592 37 pounds (exactly, by definition of the pound),
    • approximately 2205 lb
  • 98.42% of a long ton
    • One long ton (2,240 lb) is 101.605% of a tonne
  • 110.23% of a short ton
    • One short ton (2,000 lb) is 90.72% of a tonne


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