There’s a Bird Flu Outbreak of H7N7 in Australia Because It’s 2020

Bird flu outbreak in Australia

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Did you have bird flu on your apocalypse bingo card? Apparently there is a bird flu outbreak in Australia because of course there is. It’s 2020.

There's a bird flu outbreak in Australia. Because of course there is, it's 2020. Click To Tweet

The good news is that it doesn’t look like this is going to turn into another pandemic. So there’s a rare 2020 silver lining.

Some Egg Farms in the Area Have to Keep Their Chickens Indoors

So far, two egg farms near Melbourne have been affected with chickens testing positive for bird influenza, ABC reported. The first farm had to destroy all the birds, establish a buffer zone around it, and be placed under quarantine.

People on the affected properties now have to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) — something that people are increasingly familiar with thanks to COVID-19.

Now all commercial free-range egg farms in nearby regions have been asked to keep their chickens indoors for the next 30 days. This includes bird owners in Victoria’s Golden Plains Shire.

Although rare, this isn’t entirely unheard of and we can’t blame 2020 entirely. ABC reported that only three avian influenza outbreaks have happened on Australian poultry farms in the last eight years, but it may increase because free-range chickens interact with wild birds more frequently.

Health authorities said the current outbreak is not a threat to humans, 9 News reported.

Map of Overall Bird Flu Outbreaks in the Last 6 Months

While this particular strain is H7N7, there have been other bird flu outbreaks over the last six months. Poultry World tracks these outbreaks in the map below, which you can also see here.

HPAI stands for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

The Strain Is H7N7 & Rare Human Cases Are Typically Mild

The specific strain is H7N7, which experts are saying isn’t a threat to the public and has only infected humans “on rare occasions” when there has been close contact, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said.

The good news is that H7N7 specifically typically only brings a mild disease when passed to humans, WHO reported. There’s only been one fatal case of H7N7 in the Netherlands. This death involved a 57-year-old veterinarian who was testing chickens. The veterinarian died of acute respiratory syndrome. In humans, the symptoms involve either mild conjunctivitis or mild flu symptoms with chills, typically.

However, WHO warns that some bird flu cases may cause serious symptoms in humans (typically different strains.)

As for the 2003 outbreak that killed a veterinarian, WHO wrote:  “Since the beginning of the H7N7 outbreak in the Netherlands in late February, there have been 83 confirmed cases of human H7N7. The majority of these cases (79) exhibited conjunctivitis, and 13 of them displayed mild influenza-like illness. Three family members of 2 poultry worker have also fallen ill with a minor respiratory disease, suggesting a possible chain of human-to-human transmission.”

There have been very rare reports of human-t0-human transmission. The WHO noted: “Based on available evidence, WHO concludes that the death is an isolated case, as no efficient human-to-human transmission of the avian H7N7 influenza virus strain has been detected.”

Bird flu symptoms in birds include sudden, unexplained deaths; difficult breathing, coughing, sneezing or rasping; swelling; purple discoloration; rapid weight loss or egg production loss; closed eyes; diarrhea.

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    Stephanie Dwilson started Post Apocalyptic Media with her husband Derek. She's a licensed attorney and has a master's in science and technology journalism. You can reach her at [email protected].

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