September 20, 2013
Four Department of Primary Industries (DPI) cattle tick inspectors have had their privately-owned horses vaccinated against the Hendra virus to safeguard against the potentially deadly disease.
The inspectors receive an allowance to use their horses to check boundary fences on quarantined properties in the rugged hill country around Kyogle and the Tweed.
DPI Leader Cattle Tick Operations Larry Falls said the vaccination by Kyogle veterinarian Ross Brown was important to reduce any risk of the horses catching the virus.
“Our inspectors have to ride through some of the forested country that is typical habitat for flying foxes – so we need to take all necessary precautions.
“Safeguarding our staff is our highest priority and maintaining the health and disease-free status of these horses also gives confidence to the owners of the properties they are inspecting.”
Mr Falls said the four inspectors with horses – Assistant Manager Graeme Reeves, Supervising Regulatory Officers Don Durbidge and Ken McKenzie and Regulatory Officers Chris O’Reilly – have a combined 120 years service with the DPI Tick Program.
“These officers are experienced horsemen and one of their key roles is to ride the boundary fences on properties quarantined for cattle ticks or tick fever.
“Cattle ticks are the most serious external parasite of cattle in Australia and can transmit tick fever, a potentially fatal disease of cattle.
“We have found that the state of boundary fences is crucial in containing outbreaks – and encourage stockowners to maintain their fencing to a high standard.
“Unfortunately, a number of landowners don’t adequately maintain their fencing or other aspects of biosecurity.
“Without the efforts of these officers and their horses the cattle tick program would not be as successful in its response and eradication efforts.”
Mr Falls said the number of new cattle tick infestations this last season is 46 which is low compared to past levels.
“This month we have just detected two infestations as the temperature warms up.
”The dry weather may be keeping numbers down but producers should not be complacent – especially if we get some rain.
“The important message for stockowners is to check their stock for ticks because when we get on to an outbreak early, we can contain it quickly.”
Mr Falls said stockowners who bring in Queensland cattle or horses are advised to keep them in a holding paddock and monitor them for two or three weeks as a biosecurity measure before allowing them access to the entire property.