Australia boosts livestock disease monitoring systems

By Keith Nuthall

- Last updated on GMT

The Australian government has invested funds to improve biosecurity in the meat industry
The Australian government has invested funds to improve biosecurity in the meat industry

Related tags Epidemiology Australia Beef Lamb Livestock Pork Poultry

Australian government and meat industry agencies are boosting their efforts to increase biosecurity for the country’s critically important livestock sector.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has welcomed an AUD5.8m (£3.36m) project boosting biosecurity systems for Australia’s livestock industries.

The project will be managed by the MLA and led by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and funded by the government’s rural research and development for profit programme (under the department of agriculture and water resources), not-for-profit group Animal Health Australia and MLA’s own fundraising arm, its Donor Company.

MLA managing director Richard Norton said: “While Australia has stringent animal health biosecurity systems, there is a need for investment to remain vigilant and to continually improve our systems.

While Australia has been FMD-free since 1872, a large outbreak of this highly infectious disease has the potential to immediately devastate Australia’s livestock industries. This project is about bolstering our preparedness, reducing the impact of any outbreak and fast-tracking the return to trade for the red meat industry.​”

What the project will provide?

  • Assurance that Australia has suitable vaccines against the highest risk foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) viruses and pre-and-post-outbreak diagnostic tests.
  • A new emergency animal disease surveillance system.
  • A real-time outbreak decision support system enabling health officials and the industry to test the effectiveness of responses to outbreaks in real time, drawing on existing epidemiological and economic impact data.
  • Meteorological and sequencing based tools that directly assist mapping the spread of an outbreak.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) is also actively participating in improving Australia’s livestock disease control systems​, by working with the country’s Charles Sturt University to develop biosecurity resources and emergency animal disease preparedness information for new and emerging livestock industries. This includes the rearing of emu, turkey, dairy sheep, buffalo, deer and harvesting industries including rangeland goats and kangaroos.

This work is being funded by Australia’s Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, a government agency. Charles Sturt senior lecturer for veterinary epidemiology and public health, Marta Hernandez-Jover, commented: “Our research revealed that most new and emerging industries want biosecurity information, but we need to provide a tailored approach to engaging with and developing materials for these producers.​”

Meanwhile, the state of Queensland implemented a new Biosecurity Act 2014 on July 1 which imposes a duty on individuals and organisations whose activities pose a biosecurity risk to take all reasonable steps to ensure they do not spread a pest, disease or contaminant. The law also authorises compliance agreements and industry accreditation schemes which utilise best practice risk management​ knowledge to help combat the spread of disease.

Related topics Policy Oceania Food safety Meat

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