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Stakeholder Update – October 2018

Posted by: dbarnard

October 30, 2018

General update

The FMD Ready Project’s Annual Stakeholder Workshop was held in September 2018. Sub-project leaders reported on progress in each subproject, and how this relates to expected outcomes for livestock industries and governments. The workshop also provided an opportunity for attendees to review the level of engagement achieved with stakeholders and identify opportunities for the next 12 months. If you know someone who you think would be interested in this project, please forward this newsletter and contact the project leader Wilna Vosloo (Wilna.Vosloo@csiro.au) so that we can add them to our stakeholder list.

Sub-Project 1: Rapid Diagnostics and Vaccination Strategy Preparedness

The researchers have been busy studying FMD strains in South East Asia and testing vaccines against these to inform Australia’s FMD vaccine bank.  A study to determine the possible role of goats in Laos PDR provided an opportunity to test serological assays with goat sera.  They are continuing to look into vaccination options for pigs with the aim of improving vaccination for all species.  Importantly, the project also tested methods to inactivate FMD virus in skin or mucus membranes (epithelial tissues) to ensure diagnostic samples could be transported safely from farms to the laboratory.

As a result, we have direct proof that the vaccine strains in our bank will provide sufficient protection against internationally circulating FMD strains and a better understanding of virus inactivation and available antibody tests.

Sub-Project 2: Farmer-led Surveillance Systems 

The dairy cattle and pork industry surveys are still open while the sheep, beef and goat producer surveys are now closed and analysis is underway with preliminary results presented at the project’s stakeholder workshop in September.

Pilot groups are active for beef, sheep, pork and dairy producers and a goat pilot is in the initial formation stage. The purpose of the pilot groups is to enhance partnerships among stakeholders involved in surveillance for early detection of disease introduction and spread. This will facilitate fewer, less damaging and more readily controlled, outbreaks. The groups have identified focus areas of interest and are arranging activities to address these. More information here.

Sub-Project 3: Outbreak Decision Support Tools

Work in this sub-project has been focussed on gathering the most up to date data for use in disease modelling (AADIS simulations). Provided by  jurisdictional and industry stakeholders, it is already providing insights into what the costs and benefits are of using vaccination as part of an FMD response strategy and how these vary depending on the particular circumstances of an outbreak (e.g. location and types of animals effected).

The sub-project is currently completing the first set of simulations and consulting with industry to support their economic analysis through AADIS. The latter will help develop a better understanding amongst stakeholders of the economic impacts associated with an FMD outbreak.

The team would like to welcome Ann Hillberg Seitzinger an agricultural economist previously with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Centre for Epidemiology and Animal Health (CEAH) in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Ann worked at CEAH with an interdisciplinary team of epidemiologists, agricultural economists, and biological scientists modelling the spread of highly infectious diseases such as FMD and highly pathogenic avian influenza and the potential economic consequences of alternative control strategies.  Ann received a Ph.D. in agricultural economics with specialties in international agricultural trade and policy from Purdue University. In addition to spending time in Germany studying U.S.-E.U. agricultural trade issues, she worked for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and USDA’s Economic Research Service in Washington D.C. before joining CEAH in 1993.

Sub-Project 4: Disease Transmission Analysis

The SPREAD application aims to improve understanding on how FMD virus may spread via natural pathways, should an outbreak occur. Work has continued on building the application and preparing it for user acceptance testing. While a live demonstration was shown at the stakeholder workshop, visualisation of large output needs further work and the underlying systems are still being optimised.

There has been very good progress on resolving long-standing issues on the wind dispersion of FMD virus including the inactivation of different FMD viruses at different levels of temperature and humidity and ongoing progress is being made on developing a system for processing of FMDV sequencing data to enable use of sequencing in near real-time.

As the primary goal of the sub-project is the development of a working tool to assist veterinary investigations during outbreaks, engagement with future users of SPREAD is an important focus of the project. Good progress has been made in this area and it will continue to be a key priority in the coming months.