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)
  • paralysis
  • excitability
  • 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, <>

Last updated: 23 September 2019


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