New Zealand MPI’s Dr Andrew McFadden inspects a bird (chicken). SUPPLIED / 23061621 / 23061625
New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) animal health experts have ruled out infectious disease as the cause of death for the Rarotonga chickens.
McFadden and Dr Oliver Quinn have been working closely with the Cook Islands
Ministry of Agriculture and the six households that witnessed the deaths of the
chickens to determine the cause of death.
said the most likely cause of the event was a toxin or poison.
residents last month raised alarm after witnessing chickens “dropping dead”
with one reporting 25 dead chickens that fell from a tree next to their house.
of Agriculture head Temarama Anguna-Kamana acknowledged the MPI team and said
she was glad that infectious disease has been ruled out.
Dr Andrew McFadden of New Zealand MPI with Ministry for Agriculture head Temarama Anguna-Kamana and Cecilia Samuela-TouAriki, the director for advisory services and NZ MPI’s and Dr Oliver Quinn. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 23061627
said the Ministry would continue to maintain contact with NZ MPI through Cecilia Samuela-TouAriki,
the director for advisory services, for the cause of death.
Dr Quinn said they would be taking 99 samples of blood and tissue from the chickens they post-mortem in Rarotonga for further testing by a pathologist to rule out high risk diseases and conduct a toxicology test to determine if the birds ingested any toxin.
McFadden said: “What we have gathered from talking with all of these households
is that there is likely to be a single point of exposure which is different
from what we would expect from an infectious disease.”
there have been no increasing cases overtime.
NZ MPI’s Dr Andrew McFadden and Dr Oliver Quinn with Tupapa resident Rod Browne. SUPPLIED / 23061623
McFadden explained that the process by which they determined the actual cause of
death involved mostly talking to the household who witnessed the matter and
trying to understand what happened.
as that, we are undertaking some diagnostics looking at the affected areas and
places where the event occurred and looking at some unaffected places –
don’t really expect to see anything, because from what we have observed is that
the most likely cause of this event is a toxin or a poison – or something that
has caused these birds to be affected very quickly rather than infectious
New Zealand’s MPI team with the Ministry of Agriculture conducting some investigations. SUPPLIED / 23061622 / 23061624
“So we can
categorically rule out some of the big causes of bird mortality, those are avian
influenza, Newcastle disease … or infectious diseases have been excluded.”
McFadden said that they would also conduct some diagnostics for a number of
other different agents, which would take a number of weeks and months.
have managed most of the objectives that we set out to do to understand the
impact and determine the cause. We got a good hypothesis about it.”
advised the public to report any such cases to the Ministry of Agriculture.