Kiwi vaccinated after chicks' death

16:00, Mar 18 2014
kiwi chick
DRINK UP: A kiwi chick is vaccinated against a deadly infection.

West Coast kiwi chicks are being vaccinated after the death of seven young birds.

Rona Island, a 60-hectare island in Fiordland's Lake Manapouri, has been used as a creche site for Haast tokoeka chicks since 2008. 

Ten chicks were moved to the island in January and February.

In the past few weeks, seven of the chicks died and pathology results showed one was likely due to an infection called erysipelas.

 The infection is caused by a soil bacterium, and appears to be particularly dangerous for young or stressed birds.

Although the bacterium had only been found on Rona Island, and in one bird, the Department of Conservation decided to vaccinate 60 Haast tokoeka and rowi chicks as a precaution. 

DOC vet Kate McInnes said the infection was preventable with antibiotics and vaccinations. 

Two chicks had been taken off the island until staff could assess its safety

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