Infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) prevention in Otago

Biosecurity New Zealand is supporting the egg and chicken meat industries to manage a strain of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) at a poultry rearing and layer egg farm in Otago.


  • IBDV type 1 has been confirmed present at 2 Mainland Poultry layer farms in Otago – one in Waikouaiti and another at Hillgrove.
  • Both farms are under biosecurity controls to manage the risk of the virus spreading. No other properties appear to be affected.
  • Industry testing of all layer and meat chicken farms that are members of the Poultry Industry Association (PIANZ) and the Egg Producers Federation (EPF) has been completed. No evidence has been found of IBDV-1. Testing of non-member farms has begun. Preliminary results are expected in April.
  • The virus can affect the immune system of young chickens, but no infected chickens at Waikouaiti nor Hillgrove show signs of ill health.
  • IBDV poses no risk to human health or the health of other animals. There is no food safety risk.
  • MPI’s market access team has been working closely with international trading partners to minimise the trade impact.

Background situation to IBDV discovery

Testing by the egg and poultry industries, Biosecurity New Zealand and a specialist overseas laboratory confirmed the presence of the chicken virus infectious bursal disease virus type 1 (IBDV-1) in layer hens at a South Island egg farm in September 2019.

The likely presence of the disease was first picked up by Mainland Poultry at its Waikouaiti farm in Otago through its regular, voluntary testing routine. No birds at the farm have shown any signs of sickness due to IBDV-1 infection. Results of testing from Mainland Poultry’s Hillgrove site returned positive at this location. No other properties appear to be affected.

IBDV-1 was previously discovered in New Zealand in 1993. An industry-led programme has allowed New Zealand to claim absence from the disease. The virus is present in many other countries and they successfully manage it.

No food safety risk

IBDV is not a food safety issue, so chicken meat and eggs are safe to eat. There will be no impact on domestic egg and chicken meat supply.

Various types of IBDV, including the type 1 strain, are present in commercial flocks around the world and people continue to safely consume eggs, poultry meat and meat products.

How IBDV affects chickens

IBDV affects the immune system of young chickens, with birds most susceptible from 3 to 6 weeks of age. IBDV is quite infectious. Chickens which tested positive on the affected farm are not showing any disease symptoms.

What we’re doing

The impacted farms are under biosecurity controls to manage the risk of the virus spreading. Industry sampling of layer and meat chicken farms nationwide continues. All PIANZ and EPF member farms have been tested and no evidence has been found of IBDV-1. Testing has begun of non-member farms and preliminary results are expected in April 2020. Biosecurity New Zealand is working with the egg and poultry industries to understand what control or eradication measures are available.

Biosecurity New Zealand has stopped issuing certificates for the export of chicken products to countries that require a guarantee that we are IBDV-1-free. Trade of poultry products to a small number of markets remains affected. The most significant ongoing suspension is chicken meat to Australia. MPI continues to work to regain access where possible.

Prevention and treatment of infectious bursal disease

There is no treatment for IBDV. Support therapies such as vitamin and electrolyte supplements, and antibiotics to treat any secondary bacterial infections, may reduce the impact of the disease.

Disease spread will be prevented through the implementation of good biosecurity systems on all poultry farms and the disease will be eliminated from infected properties by the depopulation and rigorous disinfection of affected sheds over time.

Industry organisations

Egg Producers Federation of New Zealand

Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand

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