Strong partnership enables rapid biosecurity response

Region: Greater Darwin, Katherine, Barkly, Central | Topic: Biosecurity
28 Sep 2020

During a ride in the bush in July, a member of the Larrakia Rangers spotted a dead pig near a local rubbish dump. Thanks to recent post-mortem training, they were aware of the threat of African swine fever (ASF) and its transmission/risk pathways, and were able to recall the reporting mechanism for suspicious pig deaths.

The Department of Primary Industry and Resources Livestock Biosecurity Branch Veterinary Officer (VO) was notified and, with the help of the Larrakia Rangers, located the pig and began an immediate investigation. Due to its advanced state of decomposition, the VO quickly assessed the pig as having been dead for at least 24 hours. The VO was able to rapidly perform a full post-mortem and determine the likely cause of death to be trauma. However, given the pig’s close proximity to the dump and the potential risk of exotic diseases, full samples were taken and submitted to the Berrimah Veterinary 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 outbreaks in Australia would have serious impacts 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 Science Precinct.

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

More information

For more information on ASF, visit the Northern Territory Government website.

Back to NT Rural Review - September 2020