We should be alert to the potential for this to to spread to NZ, especially when we start to get migrants arriving.
Brett Gartrell at Massey has the following advice.
In the event your shoreline surveys identify an unusual number of mortalities, then you should ring the exotic disease hotline for advice
EXOTIC PEST AND DISEASE HOTLINE – 0800 80 99 66
The difficulty comes in knowing when the number of dead birds is unusual as we always get mortality in any wildlife population, but your groups have extensive baseline data and will probably be best placed to recognise a spike in mortality.
MPI work collaboratively with DOC in wildlife investigations and Wildbase and commercial veterinary pathology labs may be asked to be involved depending on where the mortality occurs.
Some general guidelines for collecting wildlife carcasses might be useful here
- Make sure your people are wearing good PPE. Disposable gloves and face masks recommended
- Place any bodies singly into sealed plastic bags with two labels (one in another small ziplock bag inside the body bag, and one attached to the outside). The outside one often gets lost hence the need for redundancy here. The label should have the species (if known), date of collection, site of collection, name of collector as a minimum.
- If bodies are being sent to the lab immediately, then refrigerate prior to transport and send with icepacks to keep cool. Ensure the lab knows its coming. If the bodies are to be held for more than a day or two before sending to the lab, freeze them. Note this on the label.
While the idea that a sick bird would not make the migration journey holds some comfort, its worth remembering that HPAI has a 14 day incubation period. That is the time between a bird getting infected and starting to show disease is 2 weeks. Most of our migratory species could easily complete their migration in this period, so geography only provides a certain amount of protection.