CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory can test for poultry diseases, including avian influenza.
Avian influenza activities at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory
CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory performs two vital functions to prevent avian influenza from spreading in birds – disease diagnosis and research.
2 January 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011
The Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) plays a vital role in maintaining Australia’s capability to quickly diagnose exotic (foreign) and emerging animal diseases.
The facility is a World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) regional reference laboratory for the highly pathogenic avian influenza, able to safely handle the virus within AAHL’s microbiologically secure facility.
AAHL receives diagnostic samples from across Australia and throughout the South-East Asian region.
Current staffing and equipment provides AAHL with the capacity to undertake diagnosis and testing throughout a major animal disease outbreak.
AAHL is an OIE reference laboratory for avian influenza and a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reference centre.
AAHL's new Diagnostic Emergency Response Laboratory (DERL), a high-throughput laboratory officially opened in 2008, enhances AAHL's surge capacity, enabling it to process more samples, rapidly.
This high-throughput laboratory will enhance AAHL's surge capacity, enabling it to process more samples, much faster.
With funding from the Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre, CSIRO researchers have developed an avian influenza virus type A and subtype H5-specific real-time reverse transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for detection of Asian H5N1 isolates.
Research is continuing to ensure rapid detection of other avian influenza strains and to transfer the test to veterinary diagnostic laboratories throughout the region.
In biocontainment, CSIRO researchers are testing a range of commercial products, including vaccines and antivirals, for Australian and overseas clients.
We are assessing the ability of these products to inactivate the avian influenza virus and provide birds with protection.
Disease simulation exercises
AAHL was involved in Exercise Eleusis, a national exercise simulating a zoonotic disease outbreak of avian influenza, which was held in November/December 2005.
AAHL also participated in Exercise Hippolytus - an 18-month national program of workshops and exercises addressing emergency animal disease outbreaks and animal health laboratories.
Avian influenza research
AAHL offers a unique combination of expertise in virology, immunology and biosecure animal facilities to facilitate pathogenesis studies. We have conducted trials using animal species including:
A closer understanding of the host-pathogen response to avian influenza will help us to develop better control strategies for this and other diseases that threaten Australia's biosecurity.
In 2007 a CSIRO team, led by Dr John Lowenthal, began a five-year research project, funded by Advanced Technology Services Australia, investigating gene silencing based strategies for protecting poultry against influenza.
During 2006-07, AAHL hosted Professor Ton Schat from Cornell University, USA.
He investigated the disease-causing potential of a mutated form of H5N1 and initiated studies to compare the susceptibility of chickens and ducks to H5N1 infection.
Other AAHL research, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and CSL Limited, aims to increase the amount of influenza vaccine that is produced in eggs.
The project, led by Dr Andrew Bean, investigates factors including the type of poultry egg used, the virus dose and timing in order to increase the virus titre.
AAHL's regional program, led by Dr Peter Daniels, is assisting neighbouring South-East Asian countries in their efforts to control and eradicate highly pathogenic avian influenza.
- isolate characterisation and sequence analysis
- support to implement Indonesia's National Strategic Plan for AI control and human pandemic preparedness
- projects building veterinary laboratory capacity - Indonesia and Vietnam
- a project in Indonesia to improve AI control in commercial poultry
- a project with Indonesia and Vietnam investigating the natural history and epidemiology of H5N1 infection in ducks
- developing web-enabled networking of Indonesia's laboratory information management system.
Learn more about CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL).