A NEW ZEALAND poultry farm has tested positive for Infectious Bursal Disease Type 1, thereby losing its country-free status for the disease.

The food safety authority Biosecurity New Zealand said it had stopped issuing certificates for the export of chicken products to countries that require a guarantee that New Zealand is free of the disease.

The laying hen farm, in the South Eastern region of Otago was first placed under suspicion in early September, with samples sent to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) laboratory in Paris for confirmation.

A second farm, near Moeraki, on New Zealand’s east coast, is also suspected of harbouring the virus. No hens on either farm are showing clinical symptoms of the virus, which is unusual.

The OIE said it was trying to identify the exact strain of the virus, while the Ministry for Primary Industries said it was working with the poultry sector to understand what control measures were available, and to consider options to manage the situation.

The type was last discovered in New Zealand in 1993 when it was linked to the import of an infected vaccine. Authorities are investigating travelling farmworkers and other imported goods.