On Monday 6 October 2014 the Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (ANRD) advised the public that the planned Island-wide vaccination programme, for Newcastle Disease in chickens on St Helena, was cancelled. It was found that the vaccines had not been couriered in the right conditions in South Africa and they were therefore unfit for purpose.
SHG reacted quickly to the situation and was able to source an appropriate vaccine from the UK which arrived on-Island on Monday 13 October 2014, with additional supplies due to arrive from South Africa in the near future.
As a result of this a two-phase vaccination programme (alongside a containment programme to remove wild and free-ranging chickens) will commence from Thursday 16 October 2014 to prevent further infection of poultry on St Helena.
The first phase will target the St Paul’s and Half Tree Hollow area where the outbreak currently lies. Due to the high number of chickens in the area this phase is expected to be completed within 3 weeks, providing good owner cooperation is experienced.
The programme will be reassessed after 3 weeks to determine if Phase 2 needs to be fully implemented.
ANRD would like to advise poultry owners that this batch of vaccines require a different application method than the ‘Lasota’ vaccine from South Africa. Chickens must be individually vaccinated which means that the process will be lengthier but the level of protection to individual chickens is higher and will provide cover for the life of the bird.
ANRD will contact poultry owners to advise as and when they will be administering the vaccine in their areas, and would urge owners to be fully cooperative and responsible for having their chickens ready for vaccination. Vaccinating chickens not only protects poultry owner’s flocks but stopping the spread of the disease is vital to the Island as a whole. Without cooperation and owners taking responsibility the consequences are dire for St Helena.
The programme will be monitored and a Tactical Coordination Group, chaired at Assistant Chief Secretary level, is monitoring the situation. The vaccination programme will demand the time of the ANRD team and during this period the public are asked that all queries related to Newcastle Disease be directed to the Emergency Planner, Alistair Smith, on tel: 22721.
ANRD would like to extend their thanks to poultry owners who have cooperated thus far, experts in the UK for their support and guidance on this vaccination programme, Basil Read for logistical support, colleagues on Ascension Island and the crew and Captain of the RMS for the safe arrival of the vaccines.
Although queries have been raised that Newcastle Disease has spread to the pig population on St Helena the UK advice and literature currently available to us regarding Newcastle Disease does not indicate any known cases of Newcastle Disease spreading to pigs or other livestock.
ADVICE TO POULTRY OWNERS
- Do I have to be involved in the vaccination programme?
- Stopping the spread of the disease is an Island issue and we want people to be as fully cooperative and responsible as possible.
Q. How quickly does the vaccination give protection from Newcastle Disease?
- It takes the chicken 7 to 10 days to develop immunity and it is vulnerable to infection during this period. So you still need to follow the simple measures already contained in earlier information from SHG on the disease to prevent infection and spread, and to protect your flock.
- How does the vaccination affect chickens?
- There may be a drop in egg production for a few weeks. The poultry may also be a little poorly for a few days while they develop immunity. They will return to their normal state in a couple of weeks.
- How soon can I eat eggs from vaccinated poultry?
- The egg shell may change colour, from brown to white. However, there is no withdrawal period and eggs can be safely consumed immediately following vaccination.
- How soon can I slaughter and eat poultry after vaccination?
- There is no withdrawal period, poultry can be slaughtered and eaten immediately after vaccination.
- Should poultry be vaccinated with the new vaccines if they have already had the ‘LaSota’ vaccine?
- Yes, this will give added protection.
- Will they need revaccination in the future?
A. No, this vaccination will last their lives once they have developed immunity, which takes 7 to 10 days.
15 October 2014