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Australian bird flu outbreak leads to import bans

By Carina Perkins and Vladislav Vorotnikov , 23-Nov-2012

Related topics: Industry & Markets, Safety & Legislation, Livestock, Poultry, Australia

A number of countries have banned poultry products from Australia over bird flu fears despite claims from the country’s authorities that the latest outbreak has been “successfully controlled”.

An outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza subtype H7 was confirmed on an egg production farm in New South Wales last week. Veterinary authorities said on Wednesday that the outbreak was under control, with all 50,000 hens culled and preliminary tests indicating that the virus had not spread further. They added that the farm would remain under quarantine until further testing and disinfection had been completed, and restrictions would apply within a 10km radius of the property.

NSW chief veterinary officer Ian Roth said: “Samples from some 12 nearby facilities were tested as part of an extensive tracing and surveillance strategy. The State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute have so far indicated that there is no infection.

“While we remain confident we have eradicated this outbreak, follow up testing will be done on these properties and surveillance will continue over the coming weeks. The egg production facility will remain quarantined as disinfection and final surveillance is completed.”

However, despite assurances, temporary import bans have been imposed by authorities in Japan and Papua New Guinea, a major importer of Australian poultry and poultry products.

The Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan has also imposed a ban on imports of poultry from the country. The Ministry of Agriculture of Belarus, which made the decision to impose the ban, said it would apply to all poultry and poultry products.

Commenting on the situation, a source in Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) told Globalmeatnews.com: “The Customs Union has consistently pursued a policy of restricting imports of poultry from countries where outbreaks of avian influenza have occurred. More often than not, such measures apply would only apply to the region where the virus was detected, but this time the prohibition applies to the whole country. This is dictated by security concerns.”

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