Chickens infected with bird flu at fifth Aussie farm

A fifth poultry farm in the Australian state of Victoria has been plunged into lockdown after its chickens became infected with avian influenza.

Tests confirmed the highly pathogenic H7N3 strain of bird flu had been detected on the Meredith farm in the southwest, Agriculture Victoria said on Friday.

The property has been placed into quarantine and will be cleaned, with all poultry at the farm to be culled to contain the infection.

The farm is situated within an area where movement had already been restricted, covering properties at Meredith and Lethbridge.

A control area buffer zone is in place, bound by Bacchus Marsh Rd in the east and Colac-Ballarat Rd on the western boundary.

Victoria's chief veterinary officer Dr Graeme Cooke said the newest detection was not unexpected.

"It's why our reasonable and risk-based restricted and control areas are in place and shows that Agriculture Victoria's comprehensive and ongoing surveillance activities are working well to date."

Agriculture Victoria would continue to work with affected producers and the wider industry to support business continuity while minimising the risk of the spread of the disease, he said. 

Eggs and poultry products from supermarkets do not pose a risk and are safe to consume.

Dr Cooke said the current outbreak was yet to significantly impact supplies, as Victoria has a secure supply chain which includes importation of eggs from interstate.

Avian influenza is a viral disease of birds and is found across the globe.

Four other Victorian poultry farms have been infected, with 500,000 birds euthanised at Meredith and Terang farms operated by Avgo and Surf Coast Eggs Farms.

A Lethbridge farm, operated by Farm Pride, culled about 80,000 hens, representing 8% of the company's total production capacity.

If poultry contract the disease it can spread between birds or when contaminated poultry products, feed, equipment or other items are moved between sites.

The avian influenza virus can survive for long periods in droppings, respiratory secretions, water, feathers, eggs and meat.