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Northland farms found free of chicken virus.

8 July 2005

Northland farms found free of chicken virus.

Two Northland poultry farms suspected of having Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD) have been found free of the virus after extensive testing, Biosecurity New Zealand (BNZ) announced today.

IBD carries no human health risk, but attacks the immune system of young chickens, leaving them more susceptible to other diseases. Virulent IBD strains can cause high levels of mortality.

BNZ was alerted after signs of the disease were detected by a poultry industry surveillance programme. A three-month investigation that involved extensive on farm testing, including the use of sentinel birds and laboratory analysis, had satisfied BNZ that both farms were free of IBD, BNZ senior adviser Andre Van Halderen says.

“The investigation had to run its full course to ensure that we were not dealing with IBD, and we appreciate the efforts and patience of the farmers involved and the wider industry while we’ve completed that.”

Egg Producers Federation and Poultry Industry Association Executive Director Michael Brooks says the absence of IBD was significant, and an important result for the New Zealand poultry industry.

“It highlights the importance of our surveillance programme to the New Zealand poultry industry, and proves its effectiveness,” Mr Brooks says. “We have always been confident that our regular and routine surveillance of poultry farm stock, by means of blood testing, would alert us to any possible IBD presence, and this isolated incident has proved the value of the surveillance scheme.

“The industry, with the full co-operation of the farm owners, was quick to respond to the potential threat. Proactive steps taken by the poultry industry included the implementation of movement restrictions for both birds and other potential risk items, to ensure the protection of other poultry farms,” Mr Brooks says. He thanked the Northland farmers for their co-operation throughout the investigation.


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