birding-aus Facts and Fiction on Newcastle Disease

Subject: birding-aus Facts and Fiction on Newcastle Disease
From: Harry Clarke <>
Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 09:11:15 +1000
A few years ago Steven Rimmer wrote a book titled "The Costs of
Multiculturalism" where he warned (among other things) about the prospects
of disease being spread by an open immigration program.  Most people didn't
take the argument very seriously because migrants can be screened prior to
entry for diseases such as TB. Of course with huge visitor flows into and
out of Australia each year there are many other sources of
foreign-originating infectious diseases for humans.

Now comes Newcastle Disease. According to Clive Hamilton, in yesterday's
Australian Financial Review, this is due to globalisation in trade and
particularly to the lifting of quarantine restrictions on the import of
cooked chicken meat.  The caption accompanying a picture of three budgies
reads "Newcastle Disease poses the greatest threat to Australia's rare
budgerigars" (!). The article specifically mentions threats to "red-rumped
parrots, cockatiels, pale-headed rosellas and ospreys". 

Other articles I have read from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada state that
in Canada "The major risk is from migratory wild birds carrying the disease
into the country". The article goes on to say that ND has been recorded
among wild birds in Canada. (see

Does someone know some facts on this matter? Should we impose mandatory
health checks on sandpipers seeking temporary Australian residence? What
about red-necked stints?  Should we extend duck season coverage to include
vagrant birds from high risk countries or should we send them all to

OK, I shouldn't joke in such a disgusting way since this is a serious
matter and I am serious. But are the major types of migrants to Australia
unlikely to be carriers of ND? Even if they are, can a country learn to
live with ND or does it always become a virulent problem? Should we blame
migratory birds or cooked chicken imports for the occurrence of the disease
in Australia?

Is their a medico (or biologist or immunologist) birdo out there who can
suggest some answers or decent sources of information to this question? 

Harry Clarke

School of Business
Faculty of Law and Management
Room 433, Donald Whitehead Building
La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3083. Australia.

Phone: 03-9479-1732
Fax: 03-9479-1654
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