Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 06, 2024


Avian Influenza

In reply to the Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) ().16 November 2023).

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries):

I am advised the changing risk of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) to Australia is a high priority of Australian, state and territory governments. The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) has been actively involved in the National Avian Influenza Wild Bird Surveillance Program since 2006. This field surveillance program targets sites across Australia known to be congregation points for both local wild water birds and migratory birds and where these birds may be in close proximity to poultry and humans.

The Bolivar wastewater lagoons are considered a key site for surveillance in South Australia as they provide a reliable water source and refuge for wild birds. Large numbers of wild birds congregate there during the summer where there is mixing of local waterfowl and migratory bird species. In addition, this location is near to many commercial poultry enterprises in the Adelaide Plains.

Fresh wild bird faeces are sampled from the site on a quarterly basis and are tested for avian influenza viruses. Samples are also collected from wild waterfowl from the Coorong region annually.

Results are collated and reported internally and are also shared and discussed within the National Avian Influenza Wild Bird Steering Group, comprising members of Australian, state and territory and government jurisdictions and Wildlife Health Australia. Surveillance data from this program provides valuable information on the epidemiology and risks of avian influenza viruses to the Australian poultry industry.

In addition, significant wild bird mortalities in South Australia that are reported to PIRSA or the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) are investigated, and where possible samples are collected and tested for avian influenza. Collaboration and HPAI awareness with DEW is maintained directly on a case by case basis as well as through a national wildlife health working group. To date in 2023, nine wild bird significant disease investigations have been reported and submitted for testing for avian influenza, with negative results obtained in all cases.