PNG’s West Sepik Province Declared ‘Disease Area’

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PNG’s West Sepik Province Declared ‘Disease Area’ Minister confirms Newcastle bird disease present in Sandaun

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 30, 2013) – The National Government has declared Sandaun, or West Sepik province, "a disease area" following the detection of the contagious Newcastle bird disease in the PNG-Indonesia border villages of Wutung and Musu and the provincial capital Vanimo.

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 today’s daily newspapers.

According to Minister Tomscoll, disease and deaths of village chicken started occurring in Wutung and Musu villages and around Vanimo on March 4. Reports reached National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA) on March 11.

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 March 28-4 April but no disease or deaths were reported in the affected villages. Further blood specimens were collected and sent to AAHL.

"On Thursday 11 April 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 responsible, have declared Sandaun province a "Disease Area" with respect to Newcastle disease under the National Gazette No G165 on the 23rd April 2013," he said.

Mr. 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 yesterday, NAQIA’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Nimo Kapo who analyzed 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.

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