US curbs certain poultry imports from Australia's Victoria on bird flu concerns

Illustration shows test tubes labelled "Bird Flu" and Australia flag

(Reuters) -The U.S. has imposed import curbs on certain poultry and byproducts from Victoria, Australia after determining highly pathogenic avian influenza, or bird flu, in domestic birds.

The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said on Friday the restrictions from May 22 will continue until further notice.

Unprocessed avian products and byproducts originating from or transiting the State of Victoria will not be permitted to enter the United States, the U.S. department said.

Imports of poultry, commercial birds, ratites and hatching eggs have also been prohibited. Pet and zoo birds may be imported under an import permit, subject to a 30-day quarantine.

Australia earlier this week reported its first human case of avian influenza in a child who authorities said had been infected in India but made a full recovery, while a different highly contagious strain was found on an egg farm.

The avian influenza has spread to humans and other mammal species, including among U.S. dairy cattle in March, raising concerns of it mutating into a virus that is transmissible between humans and sparking a pandemic.

However, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said the risk to the general public remains low.

Since 2022, bird flu in the U.S. has infected more than 90 million chickens, 9,000 wild birds, 52 dairy herds and three people.

Colombia in April became the first country to restrict the import of beef and its products from U.S. states where dairy cows tested positive for bird flu, a sign of a broadening economic impact of the virus.

The Australian state of Victoria was the site of an H7N7 outbreak in 2020, the most recent of the country's nine outbreaks of bird flu since 1976. All were quickly reined in and stamped out, according to Australia's government.

(Reporting by Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)