Chicken exports halted after virus possibly discovered at South Island farms

A biosecurity van.
A biosecurity van. Photo credit: Newshub.

Poultry exports to four countries have been stopped as investigations into a potential chicken virus get underway at two Otago farms.

Officials are examining Mainland Poultry farms in and near Waikouaiti. The chickens were suspected to have Infectious Bursal Disease Virus type 1 (IBDV type 1), which affects the chickens' immune system but not food safety. 

David Yard from the Ministry for Primary Industries told Newshub it will report back to affected countries, which weren't named, once results are in.

"If it's a strain of virus that is already endemic in one of those countries then there's a good chance we may be able to resume trading quite quickly otherwise it may be a more complex negotiation."

Results are expected back in around two weeks, but Yard said in the meantime it's better to be safe than sorry.

"The most critical thing for the country at the moment in the industry is that MPI can give certification to our trading partners or certain trading partners that we are free of this disease."

The virus won't affect New Zealand's domestic supply for chicken and eggs. 

New Zealand has had IBDV type 1 before in 1993, but it was eradicated within the industry. Biosecurity New Zealand investigators will look into how it could have turned up again.