The Australian state of Victoria has had to euthanize huge numbers of poultry, among them thousands of baby chicks, in a bid to stem the spread of the bird influenza, likely to add to Australia’s perils in containing coronavirus.
Choosing between bad and worse, poultry farmers in Victoria have decimated their livestock, with a whopping 400,000 turkeys, chickens, and emus being killed out of fear they could be a great risk of transmitting the contagion. That includes 2,000 baby emus, local media have reported.
The Victorian Farmers Federation Egg Group said that the loss would be devastating for both large and small producers “not just emotionally but financially as well.” Australia’s Agriculture Minister David Littleproud responded with sympathy to the news, assuring that the government understands “the impact of the difficult decisions that need to be made.”
The dramatic campaign comes after avian influenza – otherwise known as bird flu or avian flu – was first discovered at an emu farm and an egg farm in Victoria in late-July. Authorities have placed the facility in quarantine, while issuing advisories to local farmers.
Bird flu is a contagious disease that predominantly affects chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants, and ostriches. While there are lots of types of contagion, the virus strains are destroyed by cooking.
Some of them, however, are dangerous to humans, most notably the H5N1 strain, which can infect humans. The reported mortality rate is around 60 percent, the World Health Organization believes. The biggest risk to humans stems from close contact with infected birds. This means farmers mucking out and handling poultry are more likely to catch it than others.
This appears to be the second outbreak affecting Australia after Covid-19, which infected close to 25,500 people and has killed over 580. The new coronavirus has been taking a toll on the nation for months, although its spread is nowhere near the scale of the crisis in neighboring Southeast Asia.
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