Stakeholder Update – May 2018

May 4th, 2018

Sub-Project 1: Rapid Diagnostics and Vaccination Strategy Preparedness

  • Alejandra Capozzo, Head of the Applied Veterinary Immunology Lab at Argentina’s National Institute for Agricultural and Livestock Technology, visited the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) to discuss the transfer and application of Argentinian-designed tests to study FMD vaccine efficacy and cross-protection against different strains.
  • Research continued on the inactivation of FMD virus in epithelium samples (such as skin or mucosa). This would be required for the safe transportation of samples from on-farm to the laboratory. The results from the most recent experiments indicated that virus would remain viable (being protected inside the infected cells), even after 24 hours in the solutions tested.  Different approaches to address this issue are currently under discussion.
  • The team attended the Global FMD Researchers’ Alliance conference on 25–27 October 2017. The team also presented several papers and posters, a number of which are as a result of new collaborations, and organized a workshop on future research needs for managing FMD.

Sub-Project 2: Farmer-led Surveillance Systems 

  1. Data collection: In collaboration with beef, dairy sheep and goat industries the sub-project team are undertaking surveys to collect data around practices, beliefs and behaviours related to animal disease monitoring and reporting. This data will be used to understand constraints and opportunities faced by producers and inform the development of partnerships pilots that assist with continuous improvement in animal health surveillance and biosecurity required to safeguard livelihoods and maintain resilient farming communities.  If you are a livestock producer in the beef, dairy, sheep or goat industries in Australia and would like to participate in the survey, please click on the links below:
  1. Establish pilot networks: Discussions are underway for the establishment of pilots for the partnership pilots across jurisdictions and industries. A sheep producer pilot in Western Australia and cattle producer pilot in Queensland are likely to form in the next few months.
  2. Team training: The research team is undertaking training in the successful implementation of partnership pilots based on an Agricultural Innovation System framework. More information about this framework can be found here.

Sub-project two pilot information 

Sub-Project 3: Outbreak Decision Support Tools

  • Manon Courias, the sub-project team’s intern from AgroParisTech, has completed her project and has now returned to university in Paris to provide an update on her experiences in Australia. Manon’s work has provided a valuable contribution to the project by identifying a structure for analysing costs to dairy farms and dairy factories and sourcing data from government and industry stakeholders to estimate these costs. This work will help inform the AADIS simulations used to compare the costs to industry of alternative control strategies.
  • The team has been compiling inputs from state and territory jurisdictions about outbreak and response scenarios as well as updating information about the costs and constraints of control measures. This information is being used to finalise the simulation study design for a national analysis of alternative vaccination strategies. The team would like to thank all of the jurisdictions for their efforts in responding to requests for information and compiling the information needed for this study.
  • The team have received very useful feedback for sub-project 3 as part of the external review process for the whole project. This was a great opportunity to receive feedback and advice from an external reviewer with many years of experience in the agricultural economics of emergency animal diseases, including FMD. It was also interesting to find out more about emerging related research as part of the review process, such as this new project at Colorado State University that is also using war-gaming to aid disease planning efforts:

Sub-Project 4: Disease Transmission Analysis 

  • Stage 1 of the build of the SPREAD application by the Intersect software team is nearing completion. This enables users of SPREAD to undertake wind dispersion runs from an infected premise to enable users to identify other farms which might be infected by aerosols containing foot-and-mouth-disease virus (FMDV), in the event of an outbreak.
  • In December 2017, Kerryne Graham and Peter Durr visited the offices of the NSW Department of Primary Industries in Orange and the Elizabeth MacArthur Agricultural Institute in Menangle to discuss the potential for retrospectively using SPREAD to determine the role of wind-borne dispersion in the equine influenza outbreak in 2007. There was agreement for the sharing of the outbreak data, but the potential for sequencing of isolates to confirm (or negate) whether windborne spread was actually the path of transmission is still being negotiated.
  • As part of the monitoring & evaluation processes for the project, a situation report for sub-project 4 was prepared and sent to an independent expert on FMD epidemiology for review in early January. This review endorsed the overall research goals and the progress being made to achieve them, but considered that “stress testing” of the SPREAD application was needed to assure that it would function correctly in a real outbreak. This is being planned for part of the FMD outbreak in Argentina, for which quality epidemiological data was collected (Perez et al., 2004). Whole genome sequencing (WGS) has already been undertaken on a number of isolates collected during that outbreak (Brito et al., 2016), but there is the potential for a collaboration with Argentinian scientists to undertake additional WGS and use the SPREAD bioinformatics pipeline for determining the transmission pathways between farms.
  • As part of the work being undertaken with the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s Ocean and Atmosphere Business Unit on wind dispersion, we will now have the capability to “query” the atmospheric conditions during the dispersion of aerosols containing FMDV. In order to make maximal use of this new capability, we need to know the effect of temperature and relative humidity on the inactivation of the virus. No research has been undertaken to define how the virus responds to systematically varying one of these parameters, whilst keeping the other constant for the range of atmospheric conditions found in grazing areas of Australia. To answer this, we are exploring a potential collaboration with the Institute of Diagnostic Virology at the Frederick Friedrich-Loeffler Institute in Germany which, unlike the AAHL in Geelong, is allowed to work on live FMDV.