Technology at the forefront of Australia’s FMD preparedness

March 12th, 2019

Response strategies for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) are being tested by an Australian research project.

The Outbreak Decision Support Tools subproject is part of the FMD Ready Project. Computer simulation software, known as the Australian Animal Disease Spread model (AADIS), is used to model possible FMD outbreak scenarios and compare the impact of different response strategies.

The project aims to help decision-makers understand the social and economic impacts of alternative response strategies during and after an outbreak of FMD, said Dr Tim Capon, Economist at CSIRO and leader of the Outbreak Decision Support Tools subproject.

“We want to identify the advantages and disadvantages of using vaccination as part of an FMD response strategy and how these might vary depending on the outbreak, such as location and what species of susceptible livestock is affected. To do this, we’ve collected information from state and territory response staff and industry stakeholders, allowing us to update the model and inform the selection of outbreak scenarios and control strategies to be tested using AADIS.”

AADIS will also analyse the costs of different vaccination control strategies and the implications of using vaccination on proving that Australia is free of FMD after the outbreak is controlled.

“The most relevant outbreak scenarios where vaccination appears to be of benefit will be further assessed for economic impacts, particularly those related to international trade,” said Dr Capon.

The subproject is one of four under the FMD Ready Project, which commenced in 2016 and aims to strengthen preparedness for an emergency animal disease outbreak and facilitate an earlier return to trade for Australia following control of such a disease, using FMD as a model.

“This project is supporting really important work that will help boost Australia’s FMD preparedness. However, this work simply wouldn’t be possible without the participation of our industry and jurisdictional stakeholders, so we’d like to thank them for all the time and information they have provided,” said Dr Capon.

The FMD Ready project is supported by Meat & Livestock Australia, 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 CSIRO, CSU through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, supported by Animal Health Australia.