News 1552 views update:Mar 9, 2016

Papua New Guinea: Newcastle disease area declared

The Papua New Guinea [PNG] Government has declared Sandaun or West Sepik province "a disease area" after the detection of the contagious Newcastle bird disease in the PNG-Indonesia border villages.

This means that the movement of poultry and poultry products out of Sandaun province is banned until further notice. However, commercially produced chicken meat and eggs entering the province from other PNG suppliers are exempted from the prohibition. Agriculture and livestock minister Tommy Tomscoll announced the declaration and prohibition in a full page advertisement published in the country's daily newspapers. According to minister Tomscoll, disease and deaths of village chicken started occurring in Wutung and Musu villages and around Vanimo on 4 Mar 2013. Reports reached National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA) on 11 Mar 2013.

NAQIA officers immediately conducted field investigations and collected blood and swab specimens from sick and recently dead birds and sent them to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Victoria, Australia. A follow up investigation was conducted from 28 Mar to 4 Apr 2013 but no disease or deaths were reported in the affected villages. Further blood specimens were collected and sent to AAHL.

"On Thursday 11 Apr 2013, NAQIA received confirmation from AAHL that the samples from the original disease investigation in Wutung village have tested positive for Newcastle disease. This is confirmation that Newcastle disease is the cause of the sickness and deaths reported from Wutung," minister Tomscoll says in the advertisement. "Given this situation, I as minister [am] responsible. [I] have declared Sandaun province a 'disease area' with respect to Newcastle disease under the National Gazette No G165 on 23 Apr 2013," he said.

Tomscoll said NAQIA is drawing down contingency funds held in trust for avian influenza (bird flu) for the initial containment and surveillance activities. PNG's Poultry Industry Association has also committed to support NAQIA in the containment and surveillance activities, he said. Meanwhile, speaking to Post-Courier from Vanimo, NAQIA's chief veterinarian, Dr Nimo Kapo who analysed samples, said indications are that the disease is closely related to a similar disease contracted from Indonesia. Newcastle disease is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic poultry, cage and aviary birds. Exposure of humans to infected birds (for example in poultry processing plants) can cause mild conjunctivitis and influenza-like symptoms.

Source: Islands Business

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