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Australia officials have been overseeing the slaughter of 250,000 chickens on a large farm in Victoria, because of an outbreak of Newcastle disease.

So far, reported the Office International des Epizooties, (zoonoses), health checks on surrounding farms within a 10 km radius had not revealed any signs that the disease has spread. Victorian authorities have started issuing permits for voluntary vaccination of other poultry flocks in the state as part of a risk-minimisation strategy.

The affected farm will be cleaned and disinfected after the slaughter has been completed. Quarantine and movement controls on nearby farms have not been replicated in other Australian states.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent