Kim Chance

Kim Chance

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; the Mid West and Wheatbelt; Great Southern

    Exercise to test WA's readiness to deal with Bird Flu

    23/11/2005 12:00 AM

    Agriculture Minister Kim Chance today announced Western Australia’s participation in Exercise Eleusis - a national simulation that will test Australia’s readiness to deal with a hypothetical outbreak of Avian Influenza.

    “While the chances of an outbreak of Avian Influenza in Australia are low, it makes sense to be prepared and Exercise Eleusis is part of that process,” Mr Chance said.

    “WA is well prepared to deal with the outbreak of a serious animal disease, including a disease that might have human health implications.

    “Taking part in simulations like Exercise Eleusis helps hone that preparedness and identifies areas which can be improved.”

    Exercise Eleusis will test working relationships between governments and industry, administrative arrangements, public and operational communications, and disease control policies and strategies. It will run from November 29 to December 1.

    “It is a timely exercise, given the current interest in Avian Influenza and the confusion that has arisen between what is a disease of birds - with no cases of human to human transmission - and the possibility that the world might see a flu pandemic of some kind in the future,” the Minister said.

    “The Department of Agriculture will be the primary WA agency involved in Exercise Eleusis, and will co-operate closely with the Department of Health.

    “Industry groups will also be involved, because there is a close level of co-operation required in such scenarios. These close ties have helped WA develop very strong biosecurity programs with industry.”

    WA is fortunate because those wildfowl species that have spread Avian Influenza in other parts of the world do not migrate to the State. Migratory birds that do come to WA are not known carriers of the virulent strain of the disease.

    “High levels of border biosecurity and measures such as commercial poultry producers always using scheme or underground water means WA is well-protected against Avian Influenza,” Mr Chance said.

    The Minister said the State Government was keen to make people aware of Exercise Eleusis to avoid any confusion between the hypothetical scenario being tested and real cases occurring overseas.

    “The State Government is protecting and enhancing Western Australia’s unique lifestyle and environment,” he said.

    Ministers office: 9213 6700