PNG's West Sepik declared "a disease area"
The Papua New Guinea Government has declared West Sepik province "a disease area" after the discovery of the contagious Newcastle bird disease in the border town, Wutung.
The Papua New Guinea Government has declared West Sepik province "a disease area" after the discovery of the contagious Newcastle bird disease in the border town Wutung.
The National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority, or NAQIA, has begun its initial containment and surveillance activities.
The president of the PNG Poultry Producers Association, Stanley Leahy says it is the first time Newcastle disease has been found on the PNG mainland, although it is endemic in neighbouring Indonesia.
He told Annell Husband the advantage is there are very few birds in Wutung.
LEAHY: NAQIA believe that it should be relatively simple for them to contain if it is just in Wutung, which is why they're doing surveillance work at the moment to figure out just how far it's spread. The difference between a village situation and a commercial situation is significantly different, in that we're not talking about hundreds of thousands of birds here, we're talking about hundreds to possibly thousands of birds to eradicate, which is the PIA's preference and NAQIA's preference once the disease is identified.
HUSBAND: In terms of where it has been detected, where's the nearest commercial operation?
LEAHY: Most of the commercial operations in PNG are operated out of the Morobe Province, so a long way. We are also fortunate that there's no roads from the infected area to the rest of PNG, so that is one way we can control it. One of the big concerns NAQIA has and we have as well is these people putting birds in boats and bringing them down the coast. But moving them overland is more difficult because of the area's remoteness.
HUSBAND: So at this point would you say that NAQIA and the authorities are making all the right moves in terms of containing it?
LEAHY: We had a very productive meeting with NAQIA on Friday. The PIA, the Poultry Producer's Associated of PNG, has offered to replace any birds that are eradicated, free of charge. We've also offered to pay compensation for those birds which are eradicated. We've also offered to pay compensation for those birds which are eradicated. We're hoping to work with NAQIA. The sooner we can get teams in there to eradicate birds the better, which NAQIA have said they are going to be doing. We are concerned that that hasn't been done yet. There are issues in terms of getting people mobilised in those remote areas. We have a PIA representative on the ground and I believe NAQIA's chief vet Nimo Kapo is also in Vanimo this week to try and get the ball rolling on that.
HUSBAND: Does this serve as another reminder, perhaps, that the laws around imports need to be tightened?
LEAHY: Absolutely. This is something we've been concerned about for a long time at the PIA. At this point it's hard to determine what has actually caused the outbreak of Newcastle disease. Last time there was an outbreak of Newcastle disease in West New Britain they determined it was a result of logging ships bringing in illegal birds, particularly where illegal birds are brought in for cockfights. But the PIA has been talking to the government for some time about our biosecurity protocols on imported product, as well. So that's uncooked eggs and frozen chicken. And there are serious disease risks associated with those and that is an ongoing gripe we have with NAQIA. Hopefully we can work through those issues, but progress has been slow at this point.
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