Skip to main content

Ramping up disease surveillance

Posted by: dbarnard

February 18, 2019

Groups of producers from across Australia are acknowledging their biosecurity responsibilities by ramping up their on-farm disease surveillance through a program called the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Ready Project.

Australia is free of FMD and this project aims to keep it out by strengthening preparedness for any emergency animal disease outbreak and facilitating an earlier return to trade for Australia following control of such a disease. While the project is using FMD as a model, it is aimed at improving on-farm surveillance to help producers with a host of health and welfare issues.

Through the project, animal health stakeholders, including producers, agents and private and government veterinarians, will form local pilot groups to improve surveillance through strong partnerships.

Each group has access to funding and technical resources to create a local platform that designs and trials education programs and innovative solutions to animal health surveillance and disease management problems, which will assist with on-farm surveillance. This might include designing and running training workshops for producers on what symptoms to look for to identify disease/conditions of concern, who to contact if you see anything suspect and what happens then. For goats this might include for example Caprine arthritis and encephalitis (CAE), Johne’s disease (JD) and Q fever as well as conditions like footrot, coccidiosis, pulpy kidney, scabby mouth and tetanus.

The goat pilot group is based in South Australia and met to brainstorm ideas in December.  The group was excited about the possibilities and what could be achieved over the course of the project for the good of the goat industry Australia wide. This will hopefully be an opportunity to create stronger connections across the SA goat industry and to work together to address issues, starting with surveillance. Watch this space for more news and ways you can get involved.

A sheep pilot group is based in Western Australia and is exploring options for better feedback systems to producers from abattoirs as well as gathering information about how the National Significant Disease Investigation Program might fit into producers’ management of their animals. They are also working to improve general awareness by producers and the community as a whole about emergency animal diseases, what to look for and what to do if you find something suspicious.

The beef pilot group is based in Queensland and is working on developing a framework for enhanced surveillance and biosecurity practices on their farms. The group includes beef producers, local vets and state government representatives and will also trial a new training program being developed by the Qld government in partnership with private vets to improve producers’ awareness of and practical skills in the detection of signs and symptoms of endemic and exotic diseases of concern.

There are also pilot groups running in the dairy and pork industries.

This Project is supported by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural Research & Development for Profit program, and by producer levies from Australian FMD-susceptible livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) industries and Charles Sturt University (CSU), leveraging significant in-kind support from the research partners.

The research partners for this project are the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), CSU through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, supported by Animal Health Australia (AHA).

*This article was originally published on MLA’s website.