Avian Influenza Outbreak 2024: Client Information

NSW DPI has established a 2 km Restricted Area around the infected properties and a broader Control Area to manage the outbreak. These outbreaks are separate from the H7 HPAI strains found in Victorian poultry and are not linked. It is believed these outbreaks likely originated from wild birds.

For the latest updates on these outbreaks, please refer to the NSW DPI website (links below).

If you are unsure about your bird’s risk category, please phone our clinic on 1300 WILD VET before your appointment.

Please allow extra time for all avian appointments and contact us before visiting if your bird has not been assigned a risk category. We are committed to protecting our patients and the community during this outbreak.

What are the signs of avian influenza in birds?

  • Sudden death or increased mortality in the flock
  • Decreased feed and water consumption
  • Reduction in egg production or misshapen eggs
  • Watery eyes, sinusitis, or respiratory distress
  • Darkening and swelling of the comb, wattles, or legs
  • Ruffled feathers, loss of appetite, and diarrhoea
  • Neurological signs such as tremors and unsteady gait

How is it spread?

Avian influenza spreads through direct contact with infected birds or their secretions, including feces. Contaminated equipment, clothing, and vehicles can also spread the virus. Windborne transmission is possible over short distances, and other animals like cats and dogs can spread the virus if they come into contact with infected birds.

Can pet birds get avian influenza?

Yes, pet birds can contract avian influenza. All bird owners should be vigilant for signs of the disease and report any unusual symptoms or sudden deaths to their veterinarian or the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline at 1800 675 888.

Can other species get avian influenza?

While avian influenza primarily affects birds, some strains can infect mammals, including humans. It’s essential to follow biosecurity measures to prevent the spread to other animals and people.

Can people be infected?

Humans can be infected with avian influenza, although it is rare. People who are in close contact with infected birds or contaminated environments are at higher risk. It is crucial to use personal protective equipment and practice good hygiene when handling birds.

Why is HPAI such a big deal?

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) can cause severe illness and death in birds, with mortality rates up to 90-100% in affected flocks. This can lead to significant economic losses in the poultry industry and requires strict control measures to prevent widespread outbreaks.

What does testing involve?

Testing for avian influenza involves collecting swabs from birds and submitting them to a laboratory for analysis. This process may incur a small fee, which will be discussed prior to sample collection. In some cases, two vet visits may be required: one for swab collection and another for a follow-up consult once the results are received.

How does it relate to wildlife?

Wild birds, particularly waterfowl, can carry avian influenza and spread it to domestic poultry. Control of the disease in wild birds is challenging, making biosecurity measures in domestic flocks crucial to prevent outbreaks.

Why can’t I enter the clinic if my pet bird is high risk, or if my pet bird is showing signs?

To protect our patients and staff, birds that are high risk or showing signs of avian influenza are not permitted inside the clinic. This measure helps prevent the potential spread of the virus within our facility.

I think my pet bird could be infected. What should I do?

If you suspect your bird is infected, isolate it from other birds and contact our clinic or the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline immediately. Do not bring the bird to the clinic without prior consultation.

Why have you stopped accepting avian wildlife? Where will they go?

Due to the outbreak, we are currently unable to admit avian wildlife or stray birds into our clinic. Please contact us for advice on alternative locations where these birds can be taken during this time.

I’m worried I might be infected. What should I do?

If you believe you may have been exposed to avian influenza, seek medical advice promptly. Follow all recommended precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

What Can I Do at Home?

Owners can reduce the risk to their pets by implementing the following:

  • Keep birds indoors
  • Avoid interacting with unfamiliar birds
  • Restrict access to wildlife
  • Wash hands before handling pet birds
  • Protect outdoor birds from contact with wild birds.
  • Contact us for additional strategies and suggestions.

For further information, please refer to the following resources: