Recognising Avian Influenza or Bird Flu

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22nd March 2006

All insurers are now including the following exclusion on all bloodstock and livestock policies:-

Avian Influenza Policy Exclusion

“Subject otherwise to all the terms, conditions and exclusions of this policy to which this exclusion is attached, it is understood and agreed that this insurance does not cover death or destruction for humane reasons directly or indirectly caused by, happening through, in consequence of or contributed to by Avian Influenza or any mutant variation thereof.”

How to Recognise “Bird Flu”

Avian Influenza or “Bird Flu” is one of the biggest agricultural and human health threats Australia faces.

The recent discovery in Asia and Eastern Europe of the H5N1 Strain of the disease is of major concern.

Avian Influenza can affect a wide range of birds including ducks, geese, ibis, swans, chickens, turkeys, pheasants, partridges, quails, pigeons, guinea fowl and ostriches.

In order to mount an effective response, Australian landholders and others should immediately report signs of the disease or anything unusual such as large numbers of dead birds so that authorities can quickly contain and eradicate the disease.

Signs of the disease vary but commonly include drop in egg production, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and death – the signs vary depending on the strain of the virus and age and species of the bird infected.

To date there have been 5 reported cases of Bird Flu in Australian commercial poultry; all were H7 subtype of the virus, which can be a fatal disease to chickens.  All 5 cases were successfully contained and eradicated with the last case being in 1997 at Tamworth – there are no known cases of human infection.

It is worth noting that proper cooking of poultry will kill the disease but freezing will not. 

If something looks even slightly unusual in our local bird population, report it immediately to the local vet or Department of Primary Industries whose hotline is 1800 675 888.