National Avian Influenza Wild Bird Surveillance

In 2006, the National Avian Influenza Wild Bird (NAIWB) Steering Group was established to ensure national coordination and collaboration of wild bird avian influenza surveillance activities. WHA provides support to the NAIWB Steering Group and collates avian influenza (AI) surveillance data from wild birds sampled across Australia. The NAIWB Steering Group meets quarterly via teleconference with one annual face to face meeting. In 2017, surveillance activities included testing for Avian Paramyxoviruses (APMVs), predominantly targeting the APMV-1.

The NAIWB Surveillance Program activities are conducted Australia-wide, with funding provided by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and in 2011/12 funding from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Chicken Meat Program. Significant in-kind support is provided by the jurisdictional agencies, researchers and representative’s institutions.

The NAIWB Surveillance Program has two main components: targeted surveillance and general surveillance. Targeted surveillance, for AI, will continue to focus on sampling from Anseriformes (waterfowl), specifically from locations where there is known mixing with birds from the Charadriiformes (shorebirds) Order and that bring waterfowl into close proximity to poultry and humans. Where possible, surveillance will continue in locations previously sampled to obtain longitudinal data. General surveillance focuses on exclusion of AIV and APMVs from mass mortality and morbidity events in wild birds around Australia and the Australian Antarctic Territory. 

Between July 2005 and December 2019, over 109,000 wild birds have been tested for influenza viruses. To date, no high pathogenicity AIVs nor virulent strains of APMV-1 have been identified in Australian wild birds. However, targeted surveillance activities continue to result in evidence of a wide range of subtypes of AI viruses of low pathogenicity. Almost all AIV subtypes have been detected, including low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) H5 and H7 subtypes, in wild birds in Australia. 

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Objectives of the 2021 NAIWB Surveillance Program

To regularly detect AIVs by sampling wild birds, in order to:
  • Contribute to a better understanding of AIV genetic variation and gene flow of subtypes, ecology and epidemiology to support industry and human and wildlife health strategic risk assessment and management, and
  • Generate AIVs sequence data required to monitor genetic diversity and variation of AIVs circulating in Australia and maintain a contemporary Australian AIV sequence “library”, and,
  • Maintain fit-for-purpose diagnostic tests and national laboratory diagnostic capacity and capability.
2. To share and communicate data nationally, and internationally,
3.  To contribute to One Health through regular communication of AIV data to the Department of Health with specific analysis of wild bird AIVs for likelihood of infection and transmission in humans, and
4.  To exclude AIVs, specifically H5 and H7, via investigation of significant, unexplained or mass mortality events in wild birds.

Wild Bird Surveillance News

National Avian Influenza Wild Bird Surveillance Newsletter is a six-monthly report presenting information on targeted and general wild bird avian influenza surveillance results generated via the National Avian Influenza Wild Bird (NAIWB) Surveillance Program and National Wildlife Health Surveillance System. NAIWB surveillance summaries are also published in Animal Health Surveillance Quarterly (see the WHA article).

 Wild Bird News December 2018

 Wild Bird News June 2019

 Wild Bird News December 2019

 Wild Bird News June 2020

 Wild Bird News December 2020

New window icon Issue Update on Global HPAI events February 2022

WHA Fact Sheet and Australian Wild Bird References

  • Warner et al., (2006) Application of rapid diagnostic tests in the targeted surveillance of Avian Influenza Virus within Victorian wild bird populations. Wildlife Exotic Disease Preparedness Program Report [Link to information about WEDPP]