Strong partnership enables rapid biosecurity response

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Last month, during a ride in the bush, a member of the Larrakia Rangers spotted a dead pig near a local rubbish dump.

Thanks to recent post mortem training, Javadd from the local Aboriginal ranger group was aware of the threat of and the transmission/risk pathways for African swine fever (ASF) and was able to recall the reporting mechanism for suspicious pig deaths.

The Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Livestock Biosecurity Branch Veterinary Officer Lil Stedman was notified and with the help of the Larrakia rangers Kyle, Duane, Alan, Javadd, located the pig and commenced an immediate investigation. Due to the advanced state of decomposition, the Veterinary Officer quickly assessed the pig as having been dead for at least 24 hours. The Veterinary Officer was able to rapidly perform a full post-mortem and determine the likely cause of death to be trauma. However, given the close proximity to the dump and the potential risk of exotic diseases, full samples were taken and submitted to the Berrimah Vet Laboratories, who promptly performed in-house testing to exclude ASF and another exotic disease of pigs called Classical swine fever (CSF) . These results were supported by additional testing at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness referral laboratory in Victoria.

ASF is an exotic contagious pig disease that has been confirmed in countries close to Australia including Timor Leste. ASF and CSF are emergency animal diseases and an outbreak in Australia would have a serious impact on our pork industry.

Early detection of emergency animal disease is vital to minimising impacts on the Australian economy and lifestyle. The Emergency Animal Disease hotline is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure that any response to potential emergency animal diseases is swift and efficient. This is supported by a dedicated team of Veterinary and Livestock Biosecurity Officers available to perform investigations in the field right across the Territory, and pathologists and laboratory staff who can quickly perform the appropriate tests at Berrimah Farm.

If you see sick or dead pigs call, or suspect any kind of unusual animal disease, call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

For more information on ASF, visit the NT Government website.

DPIR Veterinary Officers

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