Bird flu

Learn about avian influenza (bird flu). Find information on the situation in Australia, international travel tips and why getting your annual flu vaccine is important to stop bird flu becoming a bigger threat to humans.

About bird flu

  • Highly pathogenic avian (bird) influenza (flu) is caused by a virus that mainly affects birds. It can also be found in other animals. 
  • There are different types of virus, for example, the May 2024 poultry outbreak in Victoria is caused by a different avian influenza virus than what has recently been reported in a human in Melbourne. These two incidences are not connected. 
  • Most avian influenza viruses don’t spread easily from animals to humans. But it can happen with certain strains.
  • If humans do get bird flu, symptoms range from mild to severe. 
  • Australia has had one reported case of bird flu in a human in 2024. The case contracted the virus overseas and was treated in Australia. They have made a full recovery. 

Bird flu in Australia

Animals

Read more about bird flu in animals on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

Read more about bird flu in wildlife and responding to finding sick or dead wildlife on the Wildlife Health Australia website.

Humans

Some strains of bird flu can spread from animals to humans, but this is uncommon. There is no evidence that bird flu strains found around the world can spread easily from human to human. 

Read more about a human case of bird flu in Victoria on the Victorian Health Department’s website. 

Vaccination

While seasonal influenza immunisation will not protect against avian influenza, getting the seasonal flu vaccine each year can help prevent bird flu from mixing with other flu viruses which may lead to new mutated viruses and becoming a bigger threat to people. This is particularly important for people who: 

  • work on a poultry farm or factory 
  • are travelling to countries with bird flu. 

An annual flu vaccine is recommended for all people aged 6 months and over. 

The Australian Government maintains a strategic stockpile of pandemic influenza vaccine and antivirals for use during a national response to a public health emergency. 

Travel information

Before you travel overseas

If you are travelling overseas, check the health advice for each country you are visiting on Smartraveller.gov.au.

People travelling to areas affected by bird flu should: 

  • avoid poultry farms and live bird “wet” markets  
  • avoid contact with wild or domesticated birds  
  • wash their hands thoroughly if they handle birds and uncooked poultry products such as meat or eggs 
  • ensure that poultry or poultry products are cooked thoroughly before eating.  

After you travel overseas

If you have returned from a country affected by bird flu and feel unwell, seek medical advice. 

Although the risk of becoming infected with avian influenza is very low, it is important when making an appointment with your healthcare provider to tell them about any possible exposures to bird flu. 

Further information

For further information on bird flu, see the following resources: 

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