Animal Health News

Figure 9: Kevin de WitteNew Chief Veterinary Officer for the NT

In February, Dr Kevin de Witte returned to the Territory to fill the role of NT Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO). Following 10 years with Animal Health Australia (AHA), Kevin will lead and manage the Animal Biosecurity Program within the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries.

Many pastoralists will remember Kevin from his time with the department in the 80s and 90s when he was based in Katherine. Kevin has significant experience in disease control and management working with the NT cattle industry during the eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis, the investigation and management of various disease syndromes, and the extension of optimum herd management including spaying.

As Executive Manager Market Access Support, AHA, Kevin spent the last 10 years overseeing management of several key national programs relevant to the cattle industry including:

  • General disease surveillance programs including nationally significant subsidised disease investigations
  • National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP) for bluetongue virus
  • National Johne’s Disease Control Program (BJD)
  • Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Freedom Assurance Program (TSEFAP)
  • Development of the land transport and cattle welfare standards and guidelines
  • Co-ordination of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank and FMD research

Kevin looks forward to rousing old and new friendships, and working with the NT cattle and other livestock industries again to manage biosecurity risks, maximise market access and optimise productivity.

Notifiable Diseases in the NT

Did you know that some diseases are listed as notifiable under the Northern Territory’s Livestock Act? This means that if owners, managers and/or veterinarians suspect or have confirmed cases of these diseases in their animals, they must be reported to the Chief Veterinary Officer of the NT.

By reporting notifiable diseases as quickly as possible, you are ensuring a quick response to the disease. This not only potentially saves a large number of your stock, but could also prevent the spread onto other properties and assist the livestock industry as a whole.

There are three categories of notifiable diseases in the Territory:

  • Endemic refers to those diseases that exist within Australia but are either not found in the NT or found only in certain parts of the NT. For example, cattle tick found in the tick free area is an endemic disease.
  • Exotic diseases are those that have not occurred in Australia before.
  • Emergency diseases are based upon the national Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) between industry, Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. This list includes mostly exotic diseases that would have a significant impact upon Australia, livestock industries, trade agreements for Australia, public health and the environment.

To ensure that compensation is available in the event of a large-scale outbreak under the EADRA, emergency animal diseases (EADs) must be reported to the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer within 24 hours of notification.

Who to report to

If you suspect any animals to have any of the diseases listed below, you should do one of the following:

Phone your DPIF Field Veterinary Officer or Livestock Biosecurity Staff

Regional Field Veterinary Officers:

  • Darwin (08) 8999 2035
  • Katherine (08) 8973 9716
  • Alice Springs (08) 8951 8181

Call the Emergency Animal Disease hotline – 1800 675 888 – which is monitored 24 hours a day.

Endemic Diseases

[  ]   Avian tuberculosis

[  ]   Equine herpesvirus 1

[  ]   Bovine anaplasmosis in a tick free area

[  ]   Equine viral arteritis

[  ]   Bovine babesiosis in a tick free area

[  ]   Hydatid disease (Echinococcus granulosus)

[  ]   Cattle ticks (Parkhurst strain)

[  ]   Liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica)

[  ]   Cattle ticks (Rhipicephalus microplus) in tick free areas

[  ]   Malignant catarrhal fever (wildebeest associated)

[  ]   Cattle ticks (Ulam strain)

[  ]   Paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease)

[  ]   Cattle ticks (Ultimo strain)

[  ]   Porcine brucellosis (Brucella suis)

[  ]   Cysticercus bovis (Taenia saginata)

[  ]   Porcine myocarditis (Bungowannah virus infection)

[  ]   Devil Facial Tumour Disease

[  ]   Pullorum disease (Salmonella pullorum)

[  ]   Enzootic bovine leucosis

[  ]   Salmonella enteritidis infection in poultry

[  ]   Equine infectious anaemia


Exotic Diseases

[  ]   Any disease of Stock not reported to occur in Australia

[  ]   Fowl typhoid

[  ]   Avian Paramyxovirus (Type 1)

[  ]   Bovine virus diarrhoea (Type 2)

[  ]   Leishmaniasis

[  ]   Louping ill

[  ]   Camelpox

[  ]   Post-weaning multi-system wasting syndrome

[  ]   Chagas disease

[  ]   Porcine cysticercosis (Cysticercus cellulosae)

[  ]   Chronic wasting disease of deer

[  ]   Salmonellosis (Salmonella abortus equi)

[  ]   Contagious agalactia

[  ]   Salmonellosis (Salmonella abortus ovis)

[  ]   Contagious caprine pleuropneumonia

[  ]   Tularaemia

[  ]   Crimean Congo Haemhorragic fever

[  ]   Turkey rhinotracheitis (avian metapneumovirus)

[  ]   Duck virus enteritis (duck plague)

[  ]   Trypanosomiasis (tsetse fly associated)

[  ]   Duck virus hepatitis

[  ]   Warbly-fly infestation

[  ]   Epizootic haemhorragic disease (clinical disease)

[  ]   West Nile virus infection - clinical

[  ]   Enzootic abortion of ewes

[  ]   Feline spongiform encephalopathy

Emergency Diseases listed under Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA)

[  ]   African horse sickness

[  ]   Jembrana disease

[  ]   African swine fever

[  ]   Lumpy skin disease

[  ]   Anthrax

[  ]   Maedi-visna

[  ]   Aujeszky's disease

[  ]   Menangle virus infection

[  ]   Australian bat lyssavirus

[  ]   Nairobi sheep disease

[  ]   Avian influenza

[  ]   New World screw-worm fly (Cochliomyia hominivorax)

[  ]   Bluetongue (clinical disease)

[  ]   Newcastle disease (virulent)

[  ]   Borna disease

[  ]   Nipah virus infection

[  ]   Bovine brucellosis (Brucella abortus)

[  ]   Old World screw-worm fly (Chrysomya bezziana)

[  ]   Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

[  ]   Pulmonary adenomatosis (Jaagsiekte)

[  ]   Caprine and ovine brucellosis (Brucella melitensis)

[  ]   Peste des petits ruminants

[  ]   Classical swine fever

[  ]   Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome

[  ]   Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia

[  ]   Porcine Enterovirus encephalomyelitis (Teschen disease)

[  ]   Contagious equine metritis

[  ]   Potomac fever

[  ]   Dourine

[  ]   Rabies

[  ]   East Coast Fever and Mediteranian theileriosis

[  ]   Rift Valley fever

[  ]   Encephalitides (tick-borne)

[  ]   Rinderpest

[  ]   Epizootic lymphangitis

[  ]   Scrapie

[  ]   Equine encephalomyelitis (Eastern, Venezuelan and Western)

[  ]   Sheep pox and goat pox

[  ]   Equine encephalosis

[  ]   Sheep scab

[  ]   Equine influenza

[  ]   Surra (Trypanosoma evansi)

[ ]   Equine piroplasmosis (Babesia equi, Babesia caballi and Theileria equi)

[  ]   Swine influenza

[  ]   Foot-and-mouth disease

[  ]   Swine vesicular disease

[  ]   Getah virus disease

[  ]   Transmissible gastroenteritis

[  ]   Glanders

[  ]   Trichinellosis

[  ]   Haemorrhagic septicemia

[  ]   Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis)

[  ]   Heartwater

[  ]   Vesicular exanthema

[  ]   Hendra virus infection

[  ]   Vesicular stomatitis

[  ]   Infectious bursal disease (hypervirulent form and exotic antigenic variant form)

[  ]   Wesselsbron disease

[  ]   Japanese encephalitis


Swill Feeding: What is it and why is it illegal?

Swill is the name given to food products that contain, or have been exposed to, meat products. Examples of such products include:

  • Kitchen/restaurant scraps
  • Bakery waste
  • Untreated used cooking oils and fats

Swill is considered to be a prohibited pig feed. It is illegal to feed swill to pigs and strong penalties apply. Strict regulations are in place in every state and territory in Australia. These restrictions apply to everyone, regardless of whether the pigs are bred commercially or as pets.

Australia is fortunate enough to be relatively disease free and imported meat products from other countries may contain viruses that are not found in Australia. It is believed that feeding swill to pigs was the cause of the FMD disease outbreak in the UK in 2001.

Diseases that are associated with swill feeding are:

  • Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)
  • Classical and African swine fever
  • Transmissible Gastroenteritis

If you have any queries, please contact your local Livestock Biosecurity staff.

Animal Biosecurity Branch - Livestock Biosecurity Officers (NT Contacts)

Darwin Region           Fax:  08 8999 2146

Acting Regional Livestock Biosecurity Officer
Ph:  08 8999 2034    M:  0401 115 802

GPO Box 3000, Darwin  NT  0801

Alice Springs Region  Fax:  08 8951 8123

Regional Livestock Biosecurity Officer
Ph:  08 8951 8125    M:  0401 118 125

PO Box 8760, Alice Springs  NT  0871

Tennant Creek Region  Fax:  08 8962 4480

Regional Livestock Biosecurity Officer (RLBO)
Ph:  08 8962 4458    M:  0401 113 445

Livestock Biosecurity Officer (LBO)
Ph:  08 8962 4492    M:  0457 517 347

PO Box 159, Tennant Creek  NT  0861

Katherine Region       Fax:  08 8973 9759

Regional Livestock Biosecurity Officer
Ph:  08 8973 9767    M:  0467 740 233

Livestock Biosecurity Officer (LBO)
Ph:  08 8973 9765    M:  0427 604 002

PO Box 1346, Katherine NT 0851

Tetanus – are you and your staff prepared?

What is it?

Tetanus is an acute disease of mammals characterised by muscular spasms and increased sensitivity to stimuli. Tetanus occurs in humans and has also been reported in all domestic animals, except the cat. In the Northern Territory, the disease has been recorded in horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and dogs. Horses are reported to be the most susceptible to the disease. Tetanus can be a common cause of death in weaners after castration and dehorning.

How is it caused?

Tetanus is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani when it enters the animal’s body through traumatic wounds, or during parturition (e.g. calving) or management procedures. Procedures such as castration and dehorning can provide suitable anaerobic sites for the bacterium. After entering the body, the bacterium begins to multiply and produce a toxin, which causes the clinical signs of tetanus.

Spores of this organism commonly occur in soil and in the faeces of most animals and can survive for many years in the environment. It is for this reason that people who have contact with soil and animal faeces are at greater risk of contracting this disease.

What are the signs?

Signs of tetanus for cattle and horses are:

  • Body stiffness
  • Reluctance to move
  • Muscular spasms
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty opening mouth, unable to eat and drink
  • Rigid extended limbs (saw horse stance)
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
  • High sensitivity to noise or touch
  • Protrusion of the third eyelid
  • Drooling saliva
  • Convulsions or fits
  • Immediately before death: convulsions occur, respiration is laboured and body temperature rises

Note: In affected dogs, there is a characteristic elevation of the ears, wrinkling of the forehead and protrusion of the third eyelid.

What can we do to prevent / reduce risk?

Prevention and reduced risk can be achieved by a few quick management steps:

  • Wet down the yards prior to marking and move weaners out of the yards as soon as possible
  • Procedures requiring the skin to be broken, such as injections and castration are carried out as hygienically as possible
  • Reduce contamination of surgical instruments by placing them in antiseptic whilst not in use
  • Prevent wounds from becoming infected by applying an antiseptic to the wound
  • Weaners and calves should be castrated and dehorned just before leaving the yards and not before trucking
  • Vaccinate weaners with a 5 in 1 or 7 in 1 followed by a booster shot 4-6 weeks later (where possible) especially on properties with a history of tetanus.

Adopt best practices for branding, castration and dehorning as per the MLA manual, ‘A Guide to Best Practice Husbandry in Beef Cattle: Branding, Castrating and Dehorning’ (MLA 2007) and start a 5 in 1 vaccination program at branding, followed by a booster 4-6 weeks later or at the next weaning muster. 

Animal Biosecurity Branch  NT Waybills – Pink Copies

Have you sent your PINK copies in to your Regional Livestock Biosecurity Officer Recently?

It is a mandatory requirement for cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camelids (including camels, alpacas and llamas), deer and pig owners to complete a Waybill whenever stock are moved outside the boundaries of a property.

Pink copies must be sent within 28 days

It is an offence under the Livestock Regulations not to complete a Waybill correctly and may incur a penalty of up to $14,100 and $7050 for not submitting the Waybill pink copies to the Registrar in 28 days after completion.

NT PICs – use the NT PIC Search database - http://pic.primaryindustry.nt.gov.au/  

National PIC Registers using your NLIS account - https://www.nlis.mla.com.au/     Search the PIC register

NOTE:  Post PINK copies within 28 days to Regional Livestock Biosecurity Officer

Darwin Region
Rob Wait (A/RLBO)
Animal Biosecurity, DPIF
GPO Box 3000
Darwin NT 0801

Katherine Region
Josh Haigh (RLBO)
Animal Biosecurity, DPIF
PO Box 1346
Katherine NT 0851

Tennant Creek Region
Tom Haines (RLBO)
Animal Biosecurity, DPIF
PO Box 159
Tennant Creek NT 0861

Alice Springs Region
Greg Crawford (RLBO)
Animal Biosecurity, DPIF
PO Box 8760
Alice Springs NT 0871

Further Animal Health Information

Want information on a particular animal health topic?
Requests for articles on topics of interest are invited. Please send requests to:

Renae McLean
Ph: 08 8973 9765
E: renae.mclean@nt.gov.au

Last updated: 21 April 2016