The Mainland Poultry farm, located in Otago, is being kept under voluntary biosecurity controls as a precaution while further testing is carried out. In addition, a second Mainland property has returned suspect results. These are in the early stages of the confirmation process.
Biosecurity New Zealand departmental chief scientist Dr John Roche said that while the virus can affect the immune system of young chickens it poses no risk to human health or the health of other animals. There are two different types of IBDV – Types 1 and 2. Type 2 is already in New Zealand and causes no significant health issues in the national flock and is of no trade concern.
“There is no food safety risk with this virus (Type 1) and people should have no concern eating chicken meat or eggs. There will be no impact on domestic egg and chicken meat supply,” he said.
Biosecurity New Zealand is also reviewing operational measures at the farm to assess, if confirmed present, the risk of spread to other sites. Testing of other South Island layer and meat chicken farms is underway. It is also working with the egg and poultry industries to understand the scale of the situation and what control or eradication measures are available.
Halt to exports
While the investigation is taking place, certificates to export chicken products to countries that require New Zealand to be free from IBDV (Type 1) will not be issued. This means New Zealand will be unable to export poultry products to four countries, including Australia which is its largest importer.
If the presence of IBDV type 1 is confirmed, Biosecurity New Zealand investigators will be looking at how the virus could have entered the country and are looking at a range of possibilities including imported veterinary medicines, travelling farm workers, and other imported goods.