Avian influenza (bird flu)

Current situation

Last updated 19 July

Agriculture Victoria is responding to the detection of avian influenza at 8 Victorian poultry farms. Avian influenza is a viral disease of birds found globally. Virus strains are described as low pathogenicity (LPAI) or high pathogenicity (HPAI).

Seven infected properties close to Meredith have been infected with a dangerous strain of avian influenza called H7N3. A property near Terang has become infected with a highly contagious strain called H7N9.

A comprehensive surveillance program is in place in the restricted and control areas in order to detect the viruses. Finding infected properties shows the program is effective at detecting infections. Early detection helps to stop disease spreading beyond restricted areas.

Restricted and control areas surround all infected premises. They are in the Golden Plains and Corangamite shires.

We have placed all properties in quarantine and have safely and humanely disposed of all poultry. We are in the process of cleaning and clearing the sites of infection.

Agriculture Victoria staff are on the ground supporting the affected properties. They are working closely with poultry owners and industry to contain and kill the virus. Tracing is also underway to determine the source and spread of the infection.

Map of control and restricted areas

Read the latest orders

Movement controls

Movement controls are now in place to prevent the spread of avian influenza.

This includes:

  • the restricted area expanded to the west. It now covers the affected Meredith and Lethbridge properties. It also includes a broader control area buffer zone. This zone is bounded by Bacchus Marsh Road in the east and the Colac–Ballarat Road on the west.
  • a restricted area covering a 5 km radius around the Terang farm with a broader control area buffer zone covering a 15 km radius
  • a housing requirement for all birds within these areas.

Movement controls require permits. They are for moving birds, poultry products, feed and equipment to or from properties in the control or restricted area. Heavy penalties apply for those who do not follow these restrictions.

Examples of products that can't be moved without a permit include eggs, poultry feed and bedding.

Vehicles carrying poultry feed in the control area do not need a permit, provided they meet basic biosecurity requirements including cleaning and disinfection.

A permit is required for vehicles moving poultry feed in the restricted area.

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In a restricted or control area, a vehicle including a trailer that has come into contact with poultry, poultry product or poultry equipment can leave a property if it is cleaned and disinfected before departure. Cleaning includes removing all animal materials including faecal matter, urine, blood and visible dirt. This is done by washing down with water and detergent until visibly clean and disinfecting.

The footwear of the driver and any passengers must also be cleaned and disinfected.

In the restricted area, vehicles normally used to carry stock feed such as a feed truck must obtain a permit to allow delivery.

In the control area, trucks delivering stock feed do not need to be cleaned and disinfected if:

  • The truck is not driven on tracks used by poultry
  • The wheels are cleaned on entering and leaving
  • Any driver or passenger take steps to minimise risks including cleaning their boots on entering and leaving

A person in the restricted and control area can leave their property in their passenger vehicle to purchase feed for their poultry if they and their vehicle have not come into contact with poultry, poultry products or equipment.  If there has been contact with these, all cleaning and disinfection requirements and permit conditions must be met.

1. Bob has 10 chickens that are locked in the chicken pen. His car is parked in the garage and does not get driven where the chickens have access. Bob has not used his car to transport any poultry, poultry products or equipment. Bob wants to purchase a 20kg bag of chicken feed from the local feed store and bring it home for his chickens. Bob will park his car back at the house and carry the bag of feed to the shed.  Bob is not required to get a permit.

2. Sandy has 70 chickens that are located within a shed. Sandy wants to buy a bulk bag of feed from her feed store. Sandy has used her ute to move chicken feeders on her property. Sandy cleaned and disinfected her vehicle prior to departing her property by following the vehicle and equipment decontamination for avian Influenza (PDF - 1.2 MB) and does not need a permit. Sandy also followed the biosecurity advice from Agriculture Victoria by cleaning and disinfecting her boots because she had walked on areas where the chickens had roamed before being housed.


You need permits to move birds, poultry products, feed and equipment on or off restricted and control areas. Penalties apply for those who do not follow these restrictions.

To apply for a permit, fill in this online form (instructions are available). If you have an existing account, you can sign into Agriculture Victoria’s permit system with your registered email and password. If you haven’t got an account, please create one to apply for a permit.

It is recommended you apply early to allow enough time for Agriculture Victoria to assess your application. Your application, depending on its complexity, may need to be assessed by Agriculture Victoria vets and the Incident Permitting team. This is to minimise the risk of disease spread.

Applying for a permit does not automatically grant one. If permits are approved, there may be conditions such as ongoing submission of production data and sampling of poultry. Permits may be withdrawn if the risk profile of the outbreak changes.

Interstate restrictions

South Australia has imposed rules on moving live poultry and fertile eggs from Victoria, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory. Read about South Australia's movement conditions for poultry and fertile eggs.

Housing requirement

Agriculture Victoria has issued a housing requirement for all birds within the movement control zones around Meredith and Terang to minimise the spread of avian influenza virus detected at poultry farms.

Under the housing requirement all poultry farmers, backyard flock and bird owners must house or keep their birds enclosed as practically as possible in cages or sheds.

If you don’t have a cage or a shed you must separate your poultry and their food and drink from wild birds which may carry avian influenza (e.g. by using netting).

If you are a poultry farmer, backyard flock owner or bird owner, you should report any unexplained bird deaths to the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226. Your cooperation is crucial in protecting the health of all birds in the area.

Poultry shows

Poultry shows are still able to operate outside control and restricted areas. Biosecurity plans and hygiene practices are strongly encouraged.

Do not move poultry or poultry products including eggs, feathers and meat from a control or restricted area to attend poultry shows. Also, do not move them from shows into a control or restricted area.

Community engagement

Pop-up events

Avian influenza information is being given to affected communities in pop-up sessions. These include poultry farmers, backyard flock and bird owners.

Golden Plains and Corangamite shire residents can visit these information sessions.


Visit us at Bannockburn Central Shopping Centre, 17 McPhillips Road, Bannockburn, 10 am to 12 noon on these days:

  • Saturday 20 July
  • Thursday 25 July
  • Saturday 27 July


Visit us at Terang Community Co-op Supa IGA, 75 High Street, 11 am to 1 pm on these days:

  • Friday 19 July
  • Friday 26 July

Phone calls and text messages

We are calling and sending texts to residents in the Meredith and Terang areas to gather information about the poultry numbers. You may be asked about chickens and other animals on your property. Gathering this data helps us to plan the response and lift the control areas and restricted areas as soon as possible.

Be aware of scams. Agriculture Victoria will not ask for financial information or credit card details.

If you have any questions please call our Customer Contact Centre on 1800 226 226.

Support for farmers

Individual affected farms will experience significant financial stress.

Compensation is payable under specified circumstances for destruction of livestock and property on infected premises.

See more about compensation in an emergency animal disease outbreak.

Other supports are available including:

  • The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS)
  • The Farm Household Allowance (FHA) is a fortnightly Commonwealth Government payment for farming families in financial hardship
  • Low-interest loans for farm businesses are available through the Commonwealth Government’s Regional Investment Corporation (RIC)

The Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) do not apply to a biosecurity emergency.

A comprehensive list of resources and contact details for industry and individual support, including technical, financial and mental health information, support and services, in our resource directory.

Personal wellbeing
Stressful events can make you feel worried and uneasy, especially where there is uncertainty, but there are things you can do to take care of yourself.

About avian influenza

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Avian influenza, commonly referred to as ‘bird flu,' is a highly contagious viral infection of birds. Severe cases of bird flu can lead to serious symptoms and sudden dealth in domestic poultry, affecting all birds.

Mild avian flu from  low pathogenic viruses may not have symptoms in poultry. It can be difficult to detect in some birds. Despite this, it can still result in some deaths.

Bird flu viruses are complex and grouped by 2 surface proteins, the haemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). For example, a virus that has HA 3 protein and NA 2 protein is designated as subtype H3N2. At least 16 haemagglutinins (H1 to H16), and 9 neuraminidases (N1 to N9) subtypes have been found in viruses from birds.

Some LPAI virus such as subtypes H5 and H7 can become HPAI viruses when they move from wild birds to poultry.

H5N1 is a subtype of HPAI which causes serious disease in poultry, wild birds and some species of wild mammals globally. No one has detected it in birds in Australia to date.

Birds like chicken, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants, emus and ostriches are at high risk for avian influenza. Wild birds like waterfowl and seabirds can have the LPAI virus without getting sick.

Scientists think that all bird species can be affected by HPAI H5N1, and they have found it in 50 species of mammals.

Scientists consider wild birds the natural host for the virus. In Australia, some wild birds carry LPAI but usually do not show any symptoms of the disease.

Infected birds shed the avian influenza virus in saliva, nasal secretions and faeces.

Sometimes the virus spills over from wild birds into domestic bird populations and may cause disease. This can occur when wild birds interact with domestic birds.. It can also happen when wild birds contaminate the food or water of domestic birds.

With the emergence of HPAI H5N1 internationally, many animal species have become infected following close contact with infected birds or contaminated environments. Consumption of infected bird carcases has resulted in the transmission of H5N1 to some predatory and scavenger species.

Symptoms associated with avian influenza can include:

  • sudden death
  • respiratory signs (noisy or rapid breathing, coughing, sneezing, increased nasal secretions)
  • conjunctivitis
  • swelling of the head
  • purple discolouration of the comb and wattles
  • rapid decrease in feed and water intake
  • decreased egg production
  • ruffled feathers
  • depression
  • closed eyes
  • diarrhoea
  • nervous signs (twisted neck, inability to stay upright, inability to fly, uncoordinated movement, walking or swimming in circles, partial or full paralysis).

All bird owners need to be vigilant for any signs of avian influenza in their flocks.

Avian influenza is a notifiable disease. This means that legally you must tell us if you know of or suspect the presence of avian influenza in any birds.

You can do this by immediately calling one of the following:

  • Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 (Monday–Friday, 8 am – 6 pm)
  • the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

Good biosecurity practices are essential to reduce the risk of disease. For more information please see:

Avian influenza rarely spreads from birds to people. However, it can happen with some strains of the virus. This occurs when  there is close contact with infected birds,their droppings, or with heavily contaminated environments. Always practice good personal hygiene when handling birds.

Consuming cooked chicken meat or eggs does not infect people

If you have had contact with birds on an affected property and you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, call your doctor or the Department of Health on 1300 651 160 for medical advice.

Learn more about avian influenza in humans from the BetterHealth Channel.

Ongoing outbreaks of H5N1 globally have increased the level of risk to Australia for incursions of HPAI viruses of global concern.  Occasional outbreaks of internationally notifiable highly pathogenic avian influenza (non-H5N1) and of low pathogenicity avian influenza have occurred on poultry farms in Australia.

Each outbreak was quickly detected and eradicated, with only a small number of farms affected.

Annual migration of wild birds has the ongoing potential to introduce new subtypes of avian influenza virus to Australian birds.

State and Commonwealth governments share the costs of managing avian influenza outbreaks with chicken meat, duck meat and egg industries. This includes both highly pathogenic and low pathogenic H5/H7 virus. This ensures that a rapid and effective emergency response can be immediately mounted if the disease occurs.

Owners may qualify for compensation if they need to destroy birds or property to eradicate the disease.

Procedures for responding to outbreaks generally include:

  • euthanasia  of infected and in-contact poultry (depopulation)
  • decontamination
  • strict quarantine
  • movement controls to prevent spread of infection
  • tracing and surveillance to locate the extent of infection.

Vaccination might be an option in some circumstances but there is no vaccine currently available in Australia.

Between 1976 and 2021, there were 9 outbreaks of HPAI on poultry farms in Australia.

The outbreaks happened in different states and years. In Victoria outbreaks occurred in 1976, 1985, 1992 and 2020. In Queensland there was an outbreak in 1994. In NSW, outbreaks happened in 1997, 2012 and 2013.

In 2020 and early 2021 Agriculture Victoria worked with the poultry industry and the community to control and eradicate outbreaks of avian influenza.

There were 3 different strains of avian influenza, across 3 local government areas during this incident:

  • 3 egg farms with highly pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza
  • 2 turkey farms with low pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza
  • 1 emu farm diagnosed with low pathogenic H7N6 avian influenza.

Proof of freedom of the disease was declared internationally on 26 February 2021.

Surveillance of both domestic and wild birds was a key part of the response and is ongoing.

The ongoing surveillance activities mean we are confident that the virus is no longer present on the farms or in surrounding areas.

wild bird surveillance program is in place across Australia, supported by Wildlife Health Australia.

Report an unusual sign of disease or death in wild birds.

Page last updated: 19 Jul 2024