The Solomon Islands Agriculture Quarantine Services, (SIAQS) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) is on full alert after the Papua New Guinea [PNG] Government declared an outbreak of Newcastle Disease in Sandaun or the West Sepik province in the PNG-Indonesia border villages last month.
The Permanent Secretary Frank Wickham has directed all port of entry and border control Quarantine Officers along the PNG-SI border including the Honiara International Airport, Seaport and Mail exchange services to inform and educate communities and business operators about the threats of the disease.
He also urged them to be vigilant and alert for goods imported from PNG and to take appropriate and necessary actions for products that may pose threats to Solomon Islands to prevent any likely incursion.
Newcastle Disease (ND) is a highly contagious disease of poultry and wild birds which has the potential to cause high numbers of deaths in birds.
It has significant impacts on the economy, including commercial poultry production and trade, and on livelihoods, food security, and the environment.
It is one of the two most significant diseases of poultry, the other being avian influenza or bird flu.
The signs and symptoms of ND in birds can include sudden death, swelling of the tissues of the head, coughing and sneezing, decreased food intake, sudden decrease in egg production and diarrhea. In some cases it can cause weakness, paralysis and tremors.
The disease does not generally affect humans. In some rare cases it has been reported to cause conjunctivitis and mild flu-like symptoms.
And early detection of clinical signs is very important says Dr Emma Rooke, Chief Veterinary Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.
Dr. Rooke urged local poultry farmers and the public to be vigilant as the SIAQS closely monitors the situation in the neighboring PNG.
“The public is reminded that staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is the only right places to seek advice and information on ND.” She advised.
“Anyone who sees signs of illness in either domestic or wild poultry or birds should immediately contact their local agriculture officers or SIAQS.”
The Chief Veterinary Officer also warned against the practice of illegal movement of poultry and their products between the country’s western border villages and PNG.
“The movement of live poultry and birds, and poultry products such as fresh (uncooked) and frozen poultry meat, eggs, feathers and manure, as well as contaminated equipment such as cages, footwear, clothing etc. puts us at great risk of an incursion of Newcastle Disease,” she said.
Meanwhile the Director of Quarantine Francis Tsatsia said SIAQS is on full alert against the disease.
“A task force committee has already been set up by the Ministry to mobilize surveillance activities against a possible incursion of the disease into the country.”
He said the task force held their first meeting on Tuesday May 7th and have agreed to impose a Quarantine ban on all poultry products from PNG until the situation is clearer.
“Import conditions between the trading countries changes as soon as a pest or disease is confirmed in one of the countries of concern,” he explained.
The Director further stated that all SIAQS staff have been briefed and dually informed to be vigilant and to step up inspections at all points of entry, putting special attention and effort on aircraft, passengers and cargo coming in from PNG.
He reiterated that any poultry products from PNG found during this period will be confiscated and destroyed.
Mr Tsatsia added that Quarantine staff will as of next week, travel to the Western borders of, Choiseul and Western Province and team up with Agriculture Extension officers and start awareness programs on Newcastle Disease and other related Quarantine issues.
If you detect illness in either domestic or wild poultry or birds please contact your local agriculture office or SIAQS immediately.
The Solomon Islands Agriculture Quarantine Services can be contacted in Honiara at the Ministry’s Headquarter on phone – 24657 or 24658, Henderson Airport on 36589 and the Point Cruz Seaport on 21294.
In the Western Province they can be contacted in Gizo on phone 60281 and in Noro on phone 61292 while in Lata Temotu province on phone 53033.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has also appealed to our good citizens living at our borders, bordering SI/PNG or the Public at large for their assistance in ensuring that movements of goods from PNG to SI is restricted and discouraged.
By MAL Information Unit.
For More Information.
Contact Ben Rakai.
Phone: 22143 extension 213.
Mobile: +677 7529487