Australia safe from bird flu despite new virulent strain in Asia

EXPERTS remain confident Australia will remain free of bird flu despite the emergence of a more virulent strain.

A UN body last week warned of a new variant (H5N1 - circulating in China and Vietnam, which may trigger a flare-up in global transmission and pose “unpredictable risks to human health”.

Professor Peter Doherty, from the University of Melbourne’s department of microbiology, said Indonesia’s dominance of lab-confirmed H5N1 infection and deaths in humans was likely the result of “illegal movement” of birds rather than bird migratory patterns.

“We have not had any H5N1 bird flu outbreaks… though this virus is active in countries to our north and west,” he said.

“We are protected by our quarantine and by Wallace’s Line, which determines avian migration patterns.”