July 2, 2013
Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) veterinarians from Orange, Tamworth and Menangle are well prepared for a potential foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak after a five day hands-on training program in Nepal.
NSW Chief Veterinary Officer, Mr Ian Roth, said FMD is a very significant biosecurity threat to Australia’s livestock industries.
“The courses provide participants with real experience in identifying FMD, implementing biosecurity strategies and conducting initial disease investigations which will increase the likelihood of early detection of FMD in Australia as well as response capability,” Mr Roth said.
DPI Senior Veterinary Officers Samantha Allan, Tamworth, Dr Graham Bailey, Orange and Dr Amanda Lee, Menangle all agreed the training program provided invaluable experience in seeing FMD in a real life situation.
Ms Allan said the field trips to local dairy farms and a commercial piggery where FMD infections were active allowed them to see the disease first hand.
“The initial symptoms are very similar to three day sickness in cows, but by looking into the animal’s mouth and feet I am confident I can accurately identify FMD,” Ms Allan said.
Dr Lee said although Australian farming practices are very different from those in Nepal, an outbreak of FMD would be devastating to our livestock industries.
“The training program included an epidemiological study of how FMD spreads in a Nepalese village and a field trip to a small peri-urban village to inspect farms and interview the farmers about their experiences with FMD,” Dr Lee said.
Dr Graham Bailey said early detection is critical as the longer a disease is not identified the more difficult it can be to control it.
“It is important that farmers and livestock handlers remember to adhere to basic biosecurity practices such as isolating new or sick stock, observe stock regularly, report anything unusual and keep fences secure,” Dr Bailey said.
“If your stock are unwell and you are unsure of the cause please contact your local vet to investigate the reason and seek expert biosecurity advice.
“It is vitally important that we keep Australia FMD free,” Dr Bailey said.
If you suspect an emergency animal disease phone the 24 hour hotline .
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) commissioned the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to deliver FMD training tailored for Australian vets and stock handlers.