|3.1. Identify possible improvements to increase the sensitivity of Australia’s passive surveillance systems for aquatic animal diseases|
Activity 3.1 seeks to review Australia’s current passive surveillance system and reporting pathways for aquatic animal diseases to identify any weaknesses, particularly barriers to reporting, and opportunities to strengthen the system.
A social science survey was undertaken in late 2018 to identify any weaknesses and areas for potential improvement in Australia’s current passive surveillance system for aquatic animal diseases. The Australian abalone, barramundi and yellowtail kingfish sectors were the focus of the survey. Respondents were derived from all aspects of the passive surveillance system; including farm owners and managers, processors, government laboratory staff, government and private veterinarians and aquatic animal health consultants, biosecurity officers and policy makers.
The draft report was provided to the department in April 2019. Final comments on the draft final report are to be addressed by the end of 2019. The working group will reconvene to assess the report findings and plan next steps.
|3.2. Make the Aquatic animal diseases significant to Australia identification field guide available as an application for mobile devices|
The 4th edition of the field guide was deployed as an app across
iOS platforms in March 2017.
Although this activity is complete, the 5th edition of the field guide is currently being developed to include current scientific information. Both the website version and the mobile app will be revised.
|3.3. Undertake aquatic animal health benchmarking for specific aquaculture industry sectors|
The SCAAH Benchmarking working group oversees implementation of this activity. It aims to undertake industry-specific benchmarking for aquaculture health and production parameters as an aid to individual members of the industry.
The abalone, barramundi, southern bluefin tuna and Murray cod industries were identified as potential model industries for the project. The project leader has met with the abalone, barramundi and southern bluefin tuna industries to inform them of the project and seek their involvement. This has been generally successful.
A pilot data collection and visualisation tool has been created by key members of the project team. This tool has been shown to members of the barramundi and abalone industry and has been warmly received.
The project will be funded through the FRDC Aquatic Animal Health and Biosecurity Subprogram
|3.4. Adopt processes (new or existing) for formal recognition of validation status of diagnostic tests and identify specific test validation priorities|
The SCAAH Diagnostic Test Validation working group (WG) presented its report for comment at SCAAH-25 in March 2016. Comments were addressed and the report was finalised on 22 March 2016. The WG completed its work plan in August 2016. It noted the on-going nature of validation work.
Further activities under activity 3.4 (e.g. validation of specific diagnostic tests) were funded by the department, as part of the
Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative (see activity 3.6).
|3.5. Develop stable positive control material and internal controls for molecular tests for detection of important endemic and exotic pathogens|
The final report for FRDC project 2014/002 ’Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram: Development of stable positive control material and development of internal controls for molecular tests for detection of important endemic and exotic pathogens’ is pending endorsement, but all project activities have been completed.
The quality assurance of controls and the distribution of protocols and DNA/RNA controls to laboratories are both complete. The provision of advice regarding implementation of protocols and troubleshooting based on feedback from participating laboratories are also complete.
Positive control materials for 32 PCR assays have been prepared. Materials distributed to laboratories, on request.
|3.6. Develop validated diagnostic tests for significant new and emerging diseases of aquatic animals in Australia|
Projects on Abalone herpesvirus, Pilchard orthomyxo-like virus (POMV), prawn viruses and oyster oedema disease (OOD) are complete and reports are available on the FRDC’s website (FRDC Projects
Projects investigating Yellow head virus genotypes,
Perkinsus olseni, and
Penaeus monodon mortality syndrome are ongoing (FRDC Projects
Projects validating molecular tests for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and ostreid herpesvirus-1 (OsHV-1) are ongoing. Manuscripts will be submitted for both projects and will be put forward for consideration in the OIE Manual of diagnostic tests for aquatic animals (Aquatic Manual). These projects are funded by the department though the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.initiative.
|3.7. Improve the breadth of data in
Neptune, particularly histopathology slide collections|
Neptune is Australia’s aquatic animal health information management system. It includes an extensive database of all published records of significant aquatic animal disease incidents in Australia, and a growing digitised histopathological image collection to aid in diagnostics and training. The Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network (ABIN) ceased its hosting duties in 2014. Consequently, the CSIRO agreed to host Neptune from June 2015.
The department and CSIRO-AAHL agreed on a 2-year project to recover and redevelop Neptune from the ABIN archive and permanently host it on CSIRO IT-infrastructure and make it available for Australia’s aquatic animal health community.
This project commenced in July 2017. A scoping study has been completed and specific objectives and timelines agreed. CSIRO-AAHL recruited an IT specialist to redevelop the Neptune site on the CSIRO’s systems and to manage the scanning of additional histopathological slides onto Neptune.
A prototype of the Neptune site was developed on CSIRO systems. CSIRO-AAHL and the department evaluated the Beta 1 prototype and a Beta 2 version was subsequently developed.
CSIRO-AAHL recovered the annotations for each of existing digitalised slides and addressed the feedback provided by the department.
CSIRO-AAHL delivered the initial production build in June 2019. The final version was published following user acceptance testing. Access the Neptune website via:
This project was funded by the department through the
Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative.
|3.8. Describe existing components of Australia’s aquatic animal disease diagnosis network to identify interactions, responsibilities and performance measures|
An overview document describing Australia's aquatic animal disease diagnosis network has been drafted and will be sent to SCAAH for consideration and comment.
Specific components of the network include:
- Australian and New Zealand standard diagnostic procedures (ANZSDPs) for aquatic animal diseases: work plan developed and endorsed. ANZSDPs in progress.
- Australian laboratory proficiency testing program for aquatic animal diseases (2017-2023): The 2013-2015 proficiency testing program was reviewed in 2015-16. Following the success of this program, the department provided funding for the program until 2023 (total of six rounds). The third round of proficiency testing samples were dispatched to participating laboratories in May 2019.
- Aquatic animal health technical forum and training workshops (AAHTF): The AHHTF was established in 2008 (FRDC Project 2008/357); with the inaugural meeting held in Geelong, South Australia in March 2010 (FRDC Project 2009/315.2). Workshops were held in SA in 2013, NSW in 2014, Qld in 2015 (FRDC Project 2012/002) and Tasmania in 2018 (FRDC Project 2018/144). The next AAHTF will be held in Townsville, Qld in June 2020.
- Aquatic Slide of the Quarter: Ian Anderson at Biosecurity Queensland is the program coordinator. The program is ongoing. SCAAH to determine whether any further development is required.
- Laboratories for Emergency Animal Disease Diagnosis and Response (LEADDR): Inclusion of aquatic animal diagnostic laboratories in the LEADDR network. OsHV-1, WSSV and Megalocytivirus molecular tests included in the network quality control testing.
- Aquatic animal diseases significant to Australia identification field guide: see activity 3.2.
Neptune: see activity 3.7.