A free-range egg farm in Australia has been quarantined and forced to cull its livestock in order to stop the spread of deadly bird flu.
Birds on the farm near Lethbridge in the south-east state of Victoria have tested positive for H7N7 avian influenza – a strain of flu which can also infect humans, pigs, seals and horses.
The infected chickens have been destroyed to help stop the spread of the disease – which medical experts believe could be passed from animal to person and person to person.
NHS warns bird flu can be spread to humans via infected birds whether the feathered animals are dead or alive.
Infection can occur through touching the birds, touching their droppings or bedding, or via preparing infected meat ahead of cooking.
However, the NHS does state the disease cannot be caught through eating fully cooked poultry or eggs.
Officials in Australia are taking a serious approach to the outbreak on the Lethbridge farm.
A three-mile radius protection zone has been placed around the farm – which has also been put into quarantine.
Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Graeme Cooke told Geelong Advertiser: “These controls prohibit the movement of birds, related equipment and products within and out of the designated control area of Golden Plains Shire unless a permit for movement has been granted by Agriculture Victoria until further notice
“Agriculture Victoria is conducting surveillance throughout the restricted area buffer zone to determine whether the virus is contained to the property or whether it may be active in other areas.”
Local farmers are being asked to contact the local vets or to contact the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline should they suspect their livestock may be infected.
While health officials have said there is “currently no risk to any food supplied by the farm”, according to the MailOnline Australia.
Symptoms of bird flu, according to the NHS, include a very high temperature or feeling hot or shivery, aching muscles, headache and a cough.
While other symptoms can include diarrhoea, sickness, stomach pain, chest pain, bleeding from the nose and gums, conjunctivitis – and the first can take between three and five days to manifest once infected.
More severe symptoms can develop, including pneumonia and acute respirator distress syndrome if untreated.
Treatment includes receiving antiviral medicines to help reduce severity of symptoms.
While any suspected outbreaks in the UK should be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) helpline on 03459 33 55 77.