New industry-agreed NT entry requirements for Johne’s disease management in 2017

The Northern Territory (NT) cattle industry has agreed an assurance level of Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) 6 including five years freedom from Johne’s disease (JD) infection in source herds would best facilitate movement of cattle into the NT while maintaining biosecurity requirements consistent with the live export requirements. 

J-BAS Need a quick catch-up on what has been happening

JD is a serious wasting disease that affects cattle, buffalo, bison, sheep, goats, deer and camelids. The Territory was previously a JD Protected Zone with no known disease. On 1 July 2016, zones were no longer recognised and producers were responsible for risk assessments and assurances for JD prevention and management on their individual properties.

The Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) was developed as a risk profiling tool for beef producers. There is an equivalent tool for the dairy industry – Dairy Score. All NT properties were given a J-BAS of 7 for trading purposes during the 12-month transition period from 1 July 2016-30  June 2017. A J-BAS 7 was also applied as an interim entry requirement for cattle and buffalo into the NT during the transition period. The J-BAS rating is from 0-8 (lowest to highest level of assurance). The transition period for changing to the new national JD management system was due to end on 30 June 2017, however there has been a change to this date allowing producers until 30 September 2017 to complete and implement a property biosecurity plan in line with the requirement for a biosecurity plan under the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program.

What’s happening now?

From 1 October 2017, Northern Territory properties have the following options:

  1. Maintain current low-risk status J-BAS 7.
    To maintain this status properties will need to:
    1. By 30 September2017 - complete and implement a Property Biosecurity Plan that addresses JD risks, in collaboration with a veterinary advisor, which requires annual review.
    2. By 30 June 2018 – complete a Check Test (testing of 50 representative adult cattle from the herd by faecal PCR or culture). This will need to be completed within the past 12 months for properties trading into Western Australia from 1 January 2018.
    3. Ongoing – Maintain an annual veterinary review of the property biosecurity plan and a Check Test every three years. The Check Test will need to be done within the past 12 months for properties trading into Western Australia from 1 January 2018.
  2. 2.      Move to a  J-BAS 6
    1. By 30 September 2017 - complete and implement a Property Biosecurity Plan that addresses JD risks. Veterinarian oversight is not required.
    2. Check Testing is not required
  3. 3.      Do nothing. Reduce to J-BAS 0
    1. By 30 September 2017 – Fail to complete and implement  a Property Biosecurity Plan that addresses JD risks
  4. 4.      Achieve maximal assurance (J-BAS 8)
    1. By 30 September 2017 - complete and implement a Property Biosecurity Plan that addresses JD risks, in collaboration with a veterinary advisor, which requires annual review.
    2. Sample Test (210-300 adult cattle sampled), repeated two years apart
    3. Ongoing – Maintain annual veterinary review of the property biosecurity plan and a Check Test every three years. The Check Test will need to be done within the past 12 months for properties trading into Western Australia from 1 January 2018.

Northern Territory properties trading with Western Australia will need to initiate measures to maintain J-BAS 7 score.To maintain the J-BAS 7 score, properties need to implement a property biosecurity plan before 30 September 2017 in collaboration with a veterinary advisor, which will require annual review. J-BAS 7 also requires properties to complete a check test of 50 representative adult cattle from their herd.  From 1 January 2018, Western Australia requires that the check test is completed within the past 12 months.

Cattle or buffalo entering the NT consigned direct to export must meet the J-BAS 6 score entry requirements and declaration of 5 years with no JD infection on the property of origin. This is to manage the disease risk associated with animals ineligible for export (export rejects).  Cattle or buffalo entering the NT consigned direct to slaughter are exempt from J-BAS score entry requirements.

Producers will need to be aware of risk for acquiring JD when purchasing stock from interstate. For interstate movements into the NT and WA, the property’s J-BAS, biosecurity plan, JD property of origin statusany JD testing results will have to be declared by the vendor. 

NT producers are encouraged to apply the J-BAS 6 requirements for intrastate movements to protect their JD status and to seek a higher level of JD assurance for seed stock purchases because of the potential disease risks that apply to importing breeding stock.  Animals vaccinated for JD must be identified with the three-hole ear punch to assist with interpretation of any future JD exposure status. 

The new national arrangements do not distinguish between bovine, ovine and other strains of JD and biosecurity risk assessment must take this into account.  Of particular concern is contact between dairy and beef herds or some extent of co-grazing on contaminated land on a property where the JD status of the dairy animals is less than J-BAS 7 or Dairy Score (DS) 7.  The lower level of assurance applies to the potential livestock movement.

What do I need to do to maintain a higher J-BAS?

The table below outlines the conditions a property needs to meet and the dates to maintain or reach the J-BAS 6, 7 or 8.

J-BAS Score

Action to be taken and date required

J-BAS 6

☐ Complete and implement a property biosecurity plan by 30 September 2017☐ No history of JD infection in herd for a minimum of five years

J-BAS 7

By 30 September 2017- complete and implement a property biosecurity plan in collaboration with a veterinarian

By 30 June 2018- complete a check test of 50 adult cattle.

☐ Maintain an annual veterinary review of the property biosecurity plan and a check test every three years.

☐ For entry to WA, the check test will need to be completed within the past 12 months for from 1 January 2018.

J-BAS 8

By 30 September 2017- complete and implement a property biosecurity plan in collaboration with a veterinarian

By 30 June 2018- complete a sample test of 210-300 adult cattle, sampled two years apart.

☐ Maintain an annual veterinary review of the property biosecurity plan and a check test every three years.

☐ For entry to WA, the check test will need to be completed within the past 12 months for from 1 January 2018.

 

Property biosecurity plan

J-BAS requires a property biosecurity plan for all scores from J-BAS 1 to 8. The grazing manual biosecurity template, which incorporates the JD biosecurity checklist, has been developed for producers to use for this purpose. This meets the national industry minimum standards of the National Farm Biosecurity Reference Manual – Grazing Livestock Production. A number of other biosecurity plan templates are also available to help livestock producers develop biosecurity plans for their properties.

JD testing

Specific information on the J-BAS and testing requirements can be found at www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au/jd-cattle-tools/

What are the NT JD entry requirements from 1 July 2017?

From 1 July 2017, cattle, buffalo, bison, sheep, goats, deer and camelids imported into the NT will be required to meet the following minimum JD requirements, in addition to existing livestock movement requirements. Cattle or buffalo entering the NT consigned direct to slaughter are exempt from J-BAS score entry requirements.

Livestock being imported into the NT

Johne’s Disease J-BAS requirement

Cattle & buffalo (beef)

Property score of at least J-BAS 6

Cattle & buffalo (dairy)

Property score equivalent to at least DS 7

Sheep, goats & camelids

Property score of at least J-BAS 6

What are the JD entry requirements for sending livestock interstate from the NT?

The entry requirements for sending livestock interstate from the NT have changed. Producers should contact the relevant state to confirm entry requirements prior to transporting livestock.

Destination

Johne’s Disease requirement

WA

Property score of at least J-BAS 7.Other testing requirements may apply –see WA LB1 form.

QLD, SA, NSW, Vic

No specific movement controls in relation to JD.  Producer obligation not to introduce JD infection.

JD remains a notifiable disease under the Livestock Act and must be reported to the Chief Veterinary Officer as soon as reasonably practicable if known or suspected to be present.  Properties will not be placed under quarantine.

Further JD risk management.

NT producers are advised to seek a higher level of JD assurance on stock purchases, particularly bulls and should discuss this with their vendor, agent and veterinarian.  Vaccination with Silirum is one measure that can be used.  Identification of vaccinated animals with a three hole ear punch is required.

For further biosecurity information please contact Susanne Fitzpatrick
e: susanne.fitzpatrick@nt.gov.au     p: 8999 2123     m: 0407 498 003

For further movement information please contact Greg Crawford
e: greg.crawford@nt.gov.au             p: 8951 8125     m: 0401 118 125

Leptospirosis - a work health safety issue

In the past wet season a significant number of NT stock workers have been affected by Leptospira Pomona.  Confirmed cases of leptospirosis in humans are reported by the NT Department of Health Centre for Disease Control. Leptospirosis is a notifiable disease in humans, commonly referred to as ‘Lepto’, poses a serious threat to staff working on cattle stations, particularly in the flood plain and rural Darwin/Katherine regions. Leptospirosis is caused by a number of strains of the Leptospira bacteria, which have the ability to infect both animals and also cause serious disease in humans. Animals infected include cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, dogs and rats in addition to native wildlife including kangaroos.

Leptospirosis is highly contagious because of the many ways it can be spread from animal to animal, or from animals to humans. The disease can be spread through urine, or at birth or abortion, resulting in the contamination of water, feed, pastures and soil. Once in the environment, the bacteria are able to infect animals and humans through damaged skin or the membranes lining the nose, eyes or mouth. Stock workers are most likely to contract the disease when working in cattle yards or abattoirs with infected cattle. Infection can result from both direct exposure to urine when handling or slaughtering cattle and working in yards where the water, mud, soil or vegetation have been infected. ‘Bang tailing’ and cleaning of water troughs are two key activities which can pose a risk to stockpersons. Handling the foetus of an aborted calf, or assisting with calving can be a further source of infection for humans. Recreational activities that may pose a risk include camping, bushwalking, gardening and hunting.

The clinical signs in cattle will vary depending upon the strain of the disease. In general, animal signs associated with leptospirosis include weak newborns, fever, infertility, mastitis, jaundice, depression and anorexia. Abortion ‘storms’ may also be seen in cows that are greater than five months pregnant. Abortions may occur weeks after initial symptoms, or even in the absence of symptoms.  These signs are rarely recognised in the NT.

Symptoms in humans have been found to occur within 10 days; however can range from 4 to 19 days. The length of illness varies, with people being sick for a few days, or as long as three weeks or more. Relapses are common however it is rare for person to person transmission to occur. Symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Severe headaches
  • Chills
  • Severe muscle pain (especially in the legs)
  • Reddened eyes
  • Cough
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting

Occasionally, people with Leptospirosis will develop Weil’s disease, symptoms include jaundice, bleeding, breathing difficulties and confusion. Although extreme cases can prove to be fatal, most cases involve people with mild symptoms that resolve themselves with little to no complications, or cases where there are no symptoms at all.  It is important to reach a diagnosis for proper treatment and to exclude more serious diseases such as melioidosis.

As there is no vaccination against leptospirosis for humans, employers and staff members need to be aware of the disease, take precautions to avoid exposure and know what to do if a staff member suspects that they may have leptospirosis or displays symptoms consistent with the disease. Precautions to take against leptospirosis include:

  • avoiding unnecessary contact with water that may be contaminated
  • wearing gloves and eye protection when handling the tail end of animals to minimize urine contact (pregnancy testing, bang tailing etc.)
  • covering all cuts or wounds with waterproof dressing
  • washing hands and arms  thoroughly after handling animals, carcasses or other contaminated materials
  • avoiding hand to mouth (i.e. smoking), nose and eye contact when handling animals that may be infected
  • washing and drying hands thoroughly before smoking or drinking
  • controlling rodent populations
  • instituting wild pig management programs
  • vaccinating livestock with ‘7 in 1’ vaccine against Lepto Pomona and Hardjo strains.

For further information regarding leptospirosis is available on the nt.gov.au website.

If you believe that you, or a staff member has leptospirosis contact your local doctor for testing.  It is important to mention your risk factors or possible exposure to Lepto.

If you think that your livestock have leptospirosis please contact your DPIR Regional Veterinary Officer.

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

Last updated: 11 July 2017