Parrot eggs smuggler to be deported

Customs media release

Parrot eggs smuggler to be deported – Thursday, 3rd April 2008

A 46-year-old Dutch national, who was arrested and charged by Customs when he attempted to smuggle exotic birds’ eggs into Australia, was today ordered to be deported after serving time in jail since his arrest last year.

Customs National Manager Investigations Richard Janeczko said, “Smuggling of wildlife including birds’ eggs into and out of Australia is big business to some people but it poses a real threat to the global environment and puts profits before the welfare of the animals and the future of endangered species.”

Antonius Duindam had pleaded guilty in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court to illegally importing 10 West African parrot eggs last November.

In sentencing Mr Duindam, the judge handed down a jail term of four months and 25 days, which he has already served, and his immediate deportation.

Customs officers at Sydney Airport discovered the eggs concealed in a purpose-made body vest when they searched Mr Duindam who had travelled from the Netherlands via Hong Kong.

He was arrested by Customs investigators and has remained in custody until his sentencing today.

Mr Janeczko said the sentence reflected the seriousness of wildlife smuggling.

“Australia has some of the strongest wildlife protection laws in the world. Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the export and import of wildlife products is strictly controlled and policed.

“The smuggling of birds’ eggs into Australia is also a concern for health reasons as they pose a high quarantine risk with the real possibility of introducing diseases into the environment,” he said.

Media inquiries:
Customs Media 02 6275 6793

Customs arrests man over live snakes in the post

Customs media release

Customs arrests man over live snakes in the post – Thursday, 3rd April 2008

Customs has arrested and charged a Melbourne man with trying to smuggle four valuable live snakes into Australia.

A 32-year-old Ferntree Gully man will face Melbourne Magistrates Court today charged with four counts of importing a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) specimen under Section 303CD of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The charges each carry a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment and/or a $110 000 fine. The snakes, believed to be green tree pythons, were sent from South Africa in separate parcels in late March.

The parcels were intercepted by alert Customs and Quarantine officers at the Sydney International Mail Centre using state of the art x-ray equipment.

Inquiries led Customs investigators to execute search warrants in the Melbourne suburbs of Cranbourne, Belgrave South and Ferntree Gully yesterday with the assistance of officers from the Department of Sustainability and the Environment.

Customs National Manager for Investigations, Richard Janeczko, said wildlife smuggling was a cruel practice carried out with little or no thought for the welfare of the animals.

“It’s a big business with some specimens attracting high prices among collectors,” he said. Mr Janeczko said the snakes were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

“Australia has been a signatory to CITES since 1974 in an effort to help stamp out the illegal international trade in wildlife,” he said.

Media note:
Images of the snakes can be found in the photo gallery.

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First case of human-to-human transmission of bird flu

First human-to-human transmission
Source: The Sangai Express / (Agencies)
London, April 05: A report by BBC News has confirmed the first case of human-to-human transmission of bird flu in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s north-west and southern regions were hit by bird flu last year.

Thousands of birds were culled to control the spread of the disease.

Tests carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have now shown that bird flu killed some members of a family in northwest Pakistan late last year.

This is the first confirmation of people dying from bird flu in the country, with the samples collected from the family in Peshawar testing positive.

According to Dr Mukhtiar Zaman Afridi, head of the isolation ward for avian flu patients at Khyber Teaching Hospital in Peshawar, a poultry worker in Peshawar apparently passed the disease on to members of his family.

“The worker, whose name is being withheld on the request of the WHO, was brought to the hospital with avian flu symptoms on 29 October 2007,” he said.

Though this worker has fully recovered since then, on 12 November, his elder brother was brought in with similar symptoms.

He died a week later.

On 21 November, two more brothers of the same worker came down with bird flu.

“One of them died on 28 November, while the other has recovered,” said Dr Afridi.

Apart from the poultry worker, none of the others was found to have had any direct contact with sick or dead poultry.

Genetic sequencing tests performed by WHO laboratories in Egypt and the US on samples collected from three of the four brothers established human-to-human transmission.

Serum taken from all three was found to have been infected by the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

Though a WHO report said that the tests suggest “limited human-to-human transmission,” it adds, however, that this “outbreak did not extend into the community, and appropriate steps were taken to reduce future risks of human infections”.

IN Islamabad, Pakistan’s health ministry said it was still investigating whether there was human transmission in the country’s first death from bird flu.

It said initials tests by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which sent a team here last week, had ruled it out but that Pakistan had sent samples to Geneva � the WHO’s headquarters � for further confirmation.

Scientists fear that if the virus were passed from one person to another, rather than from infected birds, it might indicate a mutation that could lead to a global pandemic with the potential to kill millions.

“In their preliminary tests the WHO team excluded suspected human-to-human transmission, but we have sent the samples to Geneva for further confirmation,” health ministry spokesman Oriya Maqbool Jan told AFP.

The WHO team was sent after the ministry announced the death of a man who was one of six people infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus in North West Frontier Province along the Afghanistan border.

A brother of the victim also died before being tested for the virus.

Both had worked on a cull of infected poultry.

“We have been very closely monitoring the situation,” said Rafiqal Hasan Usmani, the animal husbandry commissioner.

“There has been no new outbreak”.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 200 people worldwide, mostly in Southeast Asia, since late 2003 .

Dogs catch influenza directly from birds

WASHINGTON, April 2 (Reuters) – Dogs can catch influenza directly from birds, Korean researchers said on Wednesday, saying their finding shows pets could play a role in future pandemics.

Several pet dogs became ill and died from what turned out to be purely avian strains of seasonal flu virus, the researchers reported in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Our data provide evidence that dogs may play a role in interspecies transmission and spread of influenza virus,” Daesub Song of Green Cross Veterinary Products Company Ltd in Yong-in, South Korea and colleagues reported.

The dogs had H3N2 influenza — a strain similar to one of the flu strains now circulating among humans. But genetic analysis showed the dogs were infected with viruses directly from birds, Song’s team said.

Doctors know animals pass flu viruses to one another. Many experts believe most, if not all, influenza viruses originate among birds.

The H5N1 avian influenza virus, which is sweeping through flocks in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe, has occasionally passed to humans, infecting 376 people and killing 238 of them. It has also occasionally infected dogs, cats, clouded leopards, civets and dozens of bird species, from swans to coots.

The fear is that it will somehow change or combine into a form that is easily passed from one human to another, sparking a pandemic that would have the potential to kill hundreds of millions of people globally.

H3N2 is found in birds and is also a very common human flu strain. But the varieties that infect birds and people look different on the genetic level.

Song’s team investigated outbreaks among dogs.

“From May through September 2007, cases of severe respiratory disease occurred in animals at three veterinary clinics located 10 to 30 km (6 to 18 miles) apart in Kyunggi Province and one kennel located in Jeolla Province (southern South Korea),” they wrote.

A miniature schnauzer recovered, but a cocker spaniel, two Korean Jindo dogs and a Yorkshire terrier died.

Another 13 dogs in a shelter were affected, and there is evidence some dogs infected others.

DNA analysis showed the viruses from the dogs closely resembled those from Chinese chickens or ducks in Hong Kong, Japan and China.

“Transmission of avian influenza A virus to a new mammalian species is of great concern because it potentially allows the virus to adapt to a new mammalian host, cross new species barriers and acquire pandemic potential,” they wrote.

They believe the dogs were infected via food.

“We posit that this transmission results from feeding dogs untreated minced meats of ducks or chickens,” they wrote.

“In South Korea, untreated duck and chicken meats, including internal organs and heads, have been widely used to feed dogs for fattening in local canine farms or kennels.”

It is possible some of the dogs were infected via respiratory secretions in live bird markets, and passed the virus to others, they added.

“Live-bird markets are thought to constitute a missing link in the epidemiology of avian influenza viruses because they bring together numerous hosts, such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and doves, in a high-density setting, which represents an ideal environment for virus interspecies transmission,” they wrote. (Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Will Dunham and Todd Eastham)

© Reuters 2008 All rights reserved


This document outlines the proposed Guidelines for the conduct of bird sales. This is a Draft only. [Read more...]