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Newcastle disease (avian paramyxovirus) outbreak in pigeons in Victoria, Australia

Numerous media reports in recent times have related to the PNG poultry industry in regard to the avian paramyxovirus serotype 1 (APMV-1) outbreak in domestic and wild pigeons in Victoria, Australia. APMV-1 is the same virus that causes Newcastle disease in chickens, but there is also a slight difference between NDV and pigeon paramyxovirus, which occurs in pigeon.

This pigeon paramyxovirus is not affecting Australian commercial chickens at the moment. These viruses affect birds and poultry only, and do not affect human beings.

The National Agriculture Quarantine & Inspection Authority (NAQIA) is the biosecurity authority of PNG and is mandated to protect the country from exotic animal and plant diseases and it is our responsibility to inform the public when there is a real threat or perceived pest and disease threat in our country. NAQIA is quite aware of the possible effects if exotic diseases like Newcastle disease ever entered our shores and affects our birds including the commercial poultry flocks.

NAQIA has been and is monitoring the APMV-1 outbreak in Victorian pigeons and the risks they pose to the Australian commercial poultry flock, and therefore the risk posed to the agriculture and biodiversity of PNG, because we do allow import fresh chickens from Australia.

As PNG is a signatory to the World Trade Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health, it is important that we uphold international guidelines of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (WTO-SPS) in trade of animals and animal products. What NAQIA is doing in response to the APMV-1 situation in Australia are as follows:

1.    Communicating with Australian animal health authorities for clarification on certain technical issues

2.    Assessed the Australian Newcastle Disease Management Plan 2008-2012 which basically gives assurance of the risk of chicken meat exported from Australia being free of virulent Newcastle disease virus

3.    Establish PNG status in terms of non-virulent Newcastle disease virus through targeted surveillance. This      information will help contribute towards our risk assessments

4.    Have held dialogue with the PNG Poultry Industry Association and agreed on certain plans of action

The Poultry Industry Association has been proactive in this regard and we hope to finish our initial assessments very soon.

At this stage, NAQIA perceives that the risk of introducing virulent Newcastle disease or pigeon paramyxovirus into PNG through the importation of fresh chilled chicken is minimal and no temporary ban is justified until our risk assessment is finalized. The real risk PNG faces, given the current facts, is through the importation of live caged pet birds from Australia and NAQIA will not allow import of these live birds until further notice.

NAQIA will continue to work with the Poultry Industry Association and other relevant stakeholders in the immediate future and will advise the general public through a revision of our Animal Quarantine Circular following the current reviews.

In the meantime, I appeal to anyone wishing to make public statement regarding biosecurity risks surrounding this issue to seek the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer or the Managing Director of NAQIA through Tel. 3112100.


Animal Quarantine Notice           1/2011


This is to inform all importers, transportation agents, forwarding agents and other relevant stakeholders that a temporary ban is hereby instituted on imports of live cats and dogs from Australia into Papua New Guinea due to the Hendra virus outbreak in parts of Queensland and New South Wales, and the detection of evidence of infection in a pet dog on an infected horse farm on Wednesday 27 July 2011.
This is the first time that a dog has been infected (outside of the laboratory environment). It is unknown as to how significant this evidence of exposure/infection with Hendra Virus in dogs is as far as public health is concerned.
As a precautionary measure, NAQIA will not process any further permit for importation of live dogs and cats from Australia. This status will remain until further notice.
NAQIA is currently communicating with Australian biosecurity and quarantine authorities to ascertain further information. NAQIA will further assess the situation and advise importers and stakeholders accordingly.



Related Links


Customs - PNG

Department of Agriculture and livestock - DAL

National Fisheries Authority

Secretariate of the Pacific Community

Papua New Guinea Forest Authority

Australian Quarantine and Inspection Services - AQIS

Papua New Guinea Oil Palm Research Association

Coffee Industry Coperation - CIC

Independant Consumer & Competition Commission (ICCC)
National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI)