Outbreak spreads with bird flu confirmed at 11th farm

Andrew Brown and Adrian Black |

Woolworths has joined Coles in limiting egg sales as a bird flu outbreak spreads.
Woolworths has joined Coles in limiting egg sales as a bird flu outbreak spreads.

A case of bird flu has been confirmed at an ACT poultry farm, the 11th property to be hit.

Tests revealed the property had tested positive for the strain of the virus that has affected eight farms in Victoria and two in NSW, with one million chickens needing to be destroyed.

A quarantine order has been set up around the poultry farm, which will include a 10km radius of the affected site.

ACT Environment Minister Rebeccca Vassarotti said the virus had been traced to one of the affected properties in NSW.

“The property has been cooperating with ACT government officials. Increased biosecurity measures were implemented at the site prior to detection to minimise the risk of contact or spread,” she said.

“The ACT has regularly been engaging with industry on good biosecurity practices to decrease the risks of an outbreak of avian influenza in the ACT.”

Bird flu
Bird flu has been detected on eight Victorian farms, cutting egg supplies. (HANDOUT/DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE ACTION)

Woolworths customers have been limited to two cartons of eggs in part of the country as the bird flu outbreak stifles supplies.

A Woolworths spokeswoman said a two-pack purchase limit had been introduced in NSW, the ACT and Victoria to manage stock delays.

“Along with other retailers, we’re expecting a short-term delay in stock from one of our egg suppliers in NSW, ACT and Victoria, due to the temporary closure of one of their packing sheds,” the spokeswoman said.

“Their supply is expected to recover over the next week as they ramp up operations at their other sites.”

Coles introduced a similar policy earlier in June.

NSW Agriculture Minister said the government was working closely with the ACT to manage the outbreak.

“The ACT commercial egg farm has been locked down with no products, eggs, and machinery allowed in or out, and the site’s hens will need to be depopulated,” Ms Moriarty said.

Woolworths has joined Coles in limiting egg sales as a bird flu outbreak spreads.
(Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Ms Vassarotti has sought to assure ACT residents eggs were still safe to eat.

“I want to reassure all Canberrans that avian influenza rarely affects humans,” she said.

“Avian influenza is not a food safety concern. It is safe to continue eating poultry meat, eggs and egg products as long as they are properly handled and cooked.”

Victoria’s Agriculture Minister Ros Spence on Thursday launched two mobile command centres to help manage the state’s outbreaks.

“Biosecurity emergencies can happen in any corner of our state and these new mobile incident command centres are key to ensuring we can get our expertise on ground as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Ms Spence said.