Annual Symposium Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) highlights report
The 5th Annual Emergency Animal Disease Symposium was held at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong on 17 and 18 October 2018 with more than 100 attendees over the two days. The following are a few highlights from the symposium, which was important not only for updating participants in the latest trends in EAD research, but also for the face-to-face networking opportunity for EAD prevention between colleagues and livestock industry participants.
Dr Debbie Eagles highlighted recent trends in vector borne diseases and reminded participants that global warming was likely to have a major effect on vector borne diseases such as Bluetongue. The maintenance of the sentinel herd programs and vector collection in northern Australia is an essential component of our early warning system for transboundary disease incursions.
Dr Cameron Stewart gave a very informative presentation on emerging approaches to disease diagnosis. Recent work on microRNAs in Hendra and mastitis in cattle had produced encouraging results in the early detection of Hendra and mastitis in cattle that could be made before the onset of clinical signs.
Dr Jeff Hammond updated the symposium participants on Foot and Mouth Disease. There was marked long distance spread of the virus, especially from India, with the movement of people as a significant feature. This eastern spread of the virus from India was perceived as a major threat to Australia and constant vigilance was necessary to prevent an incursion of this virus.
Dr David Williams described the situation with African Swine Fever (ASF), which is a serious threat to Australia’s pig industry especially if introduced into the estimated 20 million feral pigs in Australia. The southward movement of ASF from China through direct and indirect transmission by people was a major concern. NT Livestock Biosecurity efforts have focused on ASF awareness in 2018.
Bucks for Brains
Do you have cattle that are displaying any of the following signs?
- changes in behaviour and neurological signs
- excessive licking of the nose and flanks
- poor coordination (circling, staggering and falling)
- muscle tremors
- abnormal posture (abnormal ear position and abnormal head carriage)
- difficulty in rising (downer)
- increased or decreased sensitivity to sound, pain, heat, cold or touch.
If you do, you may be eligible for an incentive payment under the ‘Bucks for Brains’ initiative.
Bucks for Brains is an initiative of the National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Surveillance Project (NTSESP) run through Animal Health Australia. Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies are rare, fatal diseases that cause gradual deterioration in the brain and other central nervous system tissues. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as ‘Mad Cow’ disease is the form found in cattle. Scrapie is the form found in sheep.
The NTSESP helps Australia meet guidelines set by the World Organisation for Animal Health to demonstrate Australia’s freedom from BSE and scrapie. To ensure that these guidelines are met, Australia must continue to collect, examine and test eligible cattle and sheep samples.
The clinical signs of BSE can be common to many other diseases, which is why specific testing is required.
The program provides payments to producers who submit eligible cattle brains for national testing. Producers receive $300 per eligible cattle submission, for a maximum of two animals per veterinary investigation.
Eligible cattle need to meet the following criteria:
- be older than 30 months
- be less than nine years
- display signs consistent with BSE (listed above).
Please contact your Regional Field Veterinary Officer or Livestock Biosecurity Officer if you have cattle displaying any of the signs.
Source: Animal Health Australia 2016, Bucks for Brains, Animal Health Australia, accessed 20 November 2018, < https://www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Bucks-for-Brains_Jun16_WEB.pdf>
Last updated: 23 September 2019