Avian Influenza

​​​Avian influenza (AI) is a highly contagious, viral disease affecting most wild and domesticated bird species. 

AI or “bird flu” is a respiratory disease of birds caused by Influenza A viruses. AI can spread quickly by direct, bird-to-bird contact. It can also spread indirectly through birds interacting with contaminated material like: 

  • manure

  • egg crates

  • bedding

  • other farming materials and equipment 

The virus can cause a variety of symptoms that can appear similiar to other diseases in birds:

  • If your domestic bird appears sick or is dying, contact your veterinarian. 

  • In an emergency, where a large number of domestic or wild birds are found sick or dying, contact the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888 at any time (leave a message and a vet will be in contact).

Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) can be carried and circulated by many species of wild birds, including waterfowl (geese, ducks, and swans) and seabirds. Birds infected with LPAI generally do not show signs of disease, and many strains of LPAI are considered a normal part of the natural viruses which circulate in wild birds throughout the entire globe. 

Occasionally, LPAI viruses in wild birds have spread to domestic poultry, and then mutated to become high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI). HPAI is very contagious and deadly, causing large animal disease outbreaks and death.

Since 2020, a strain of HPAI A known as H5N1 clade H5 2.3.4.4b emerged as a virus of global concern, causing large outbreaks of disease and death in many species of both wild and domestic birds throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe. These outbreaks have cause significant economic losses to producers and have resulted in disruptions to poultry and egg supply chains. The HPAI strain H5N1 is not currently present in Australia, but the virus can be introduced through migratory birds returning to our shores. 

In Australia, introduction of the virus is being monitored through both active and passive surveillance methods. Members of the public are being asked to report any sick or dying birds right away to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888. Common symptoms of HPAI infected birds can include:

  • sudden death

  • reduced appetite 

  • reduced egg production

  • difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, discoloration of wattle, comb, or legs

  • difficulty walking or falling down 

  • lethargy​

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Contact

Animal Disease Enquiries

13 St Johns Avenue,
New Town, TAS, 7008.