Australia has reported its first case of a highly pathogenic
bird flu virus in 15 years at an egg farm in the New South
Wales region, the World animal health body OIE says.
So far 5000 poultry have died in the infected farm in
Maitland, 160km north of Sydney, but 50,000 are at risk, a
report by the Australian agriculture ministry to the
Paris-based OIE said.
The virus, detected last week, is different from the deadly
H5N1 strain, which was first detected in 1997 in Hong Kong
and has since devastated duck and chicken and caused hundreds
It is of the "H7" strain but the exact type of H7 had not yet
been determined, the ministry said.
Australia faced an outbreak of bird flu in February that led
to a ban on Australian exports of poultry products to Japan
but that was not a highly pathogenic virus.
Most avian influenza viruses do not cause disease in humans.
At least one type of "H7" strain, the H7N7 subtype, can
infect people and even kill but the impact on humans usually
tends to be mild, the World Health Organisation said.
The farm has been placed under quarantine as experts try to
find the source of the virus, often wild birds, the ministry