The National Management Group (NMG) met on 27 January 2012 to discuss the detection of Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) in ducks in Victoria and agreed to a program to eradicate the disease under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) —a legally binding agreement between the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, national animal industry body signatories and Animal Health Australia as an observer.
The NMG decision is based on advice from the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Disease (CCEAD) —a coordinating body that provides technical advice during animal disease emergencies.
Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza is not the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has gained worldwide attention.
The strain detected in Victoria has a low capacity to cause disease in ducks. On occasion, low pathogenic avian influenza is detected in wild birds in Australia.
There are no food safety issues, cooked poultry and eggs are safe to eat.
Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza is a nationally significant disease categorised under the EADRA. This means that costs will be shared equally between governments on the one hand and industries (chicken meat and eggs) on the other, and that its eradication is deemed to be technically feasible and in the national interest, as a precautionary measure.
The Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has quarantined the two free-range duck farms and will proceed to cull all birds, and clean and disinfect the farms, under the program approved by NMG. While the ongoing management rests with Victoria, the CCEAD is providing veterinary and biosecurity expertise. Despite the duck industry not being party to the EADRA, it is working cooperatively with authorities to eradicate the disease.
Further information on the response can be found on the Victorian DPI website.
NMG is comprised of the Chief Executive Officers of the Commonwealth and state/territory departments of agriculture/primary industries across Australia and also the heads of the peak bodies representing the relevant animal industries. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dr Conall O’Connell.
CCEAD is comprised of the Commonwealth Chief Veterinary Officer and all state and territory Chief Veterinary Officers, and nominated representatives of affected industry parties as required.