|3.1. Identify possible improvements to increase the sensitivity of Australia’s passive surveillance systems for aquatic animal diseases|
The SCAAH Increasing Sensitivity of Passive Surveillance Systems working group (WG) oversees implementation of this activity. The updated WG TOR were endorsed at SCAAH-32 (14-15 March 2018).
For phase 1, the WG agreed that a social science survey was required to identify any weaknesses and areas for improvement in Australia’s current passive surveillance system. Following a competitive tender process, an independent research company was selected by the WG, and commissioned by the department, to undertake the survey. Three aquaculture industry sectors and aquatic animal health suppliers to those industries will be surveyed.
The WG held an inception meeting with the successful supplier in June 2018 to confirm the project scope, objectives, methods and expected outcomes. A draft questionnaire for the qualitative in-depth interviews was developed and reviewed by the WG in August 2018, and interviews were completed in September 2018. The quantitative questionnaire is currently being developed and fieldwork is scheduled for late September 2018. The draft report is due at the end of October 2018 and the final report in November 2018.
Phase 1 was funded by the department, as part of the Australian Government Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative.
Phase 2 of this activity will be developed based on the results of the social science survey.
|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 Android, Windows and 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 (WG) oversees implementation of this activity in order to establish production parameters across different industries. At a teleconference in June 2018, WG members suggested the abalone, barramundi, southern bluefin tuna, Murray cod and mainland salmonid industries as potential model industries for this project.
Phase 1 of the project will be undertaken by the WG. Each suggested industry will be surveyed (electronically) to gain a better understanding of the type(s) of production parameters that farmers currently monitor and record. Phase 2 of the project will use the survey results to establish a ‘charter of accounts’ for data collection, utilisation and storage for each industry; to ensure all farms in that industry collect data in the same way. A consultant will be engaged for the second phase of the project.
|3.4. Adopt processes (new or existing) for formal recognition of validation status of diagnostic tests and identify specific test validation priorities|
The SCAAH validation testing 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 Australian Government 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 both 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 website (FRDC Projects 2009/032, 2013/033 and 2013/036, respectively).
Projects investigating Yellow head virus genotypes, Perkinsus olseni, and Penaeus monodon mortality syndrome are ongoing (FRDC Projects 2015/005, 2016/009 and 2016/013, respectively).
Validation of molecular tests for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and Ostreid herpesvirus-1 microvariant (OsHV-1) are funded by the department, as part of the Australian Government Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative. WSSV data to be analysed, a report prepared and published for a proposed update to the relevant OIE manual chapter. OsHV-1 laboratory data to be collated, gaps identified and further data generated (if required).
|3.7. Improve the breadth of data in Neptune, particularly histopathology slide collections|
Neptune is Australia’s aquatic animal health information system. It includes and extensive database of all published records of significant aquatic animal disease incidents in Australia, and a growing histopathological image collection to aid in diagnostics and training. The Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network (ABIN) ceased its hosting duties in 2014. The CSIRO agreed to host Neptune from 2015.
The department and CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) agreed on a two 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. The project commenced in July 2017 and a scoping study is now complete. An IT specialist was recruited to redevelop Neptune and manage scanning of additional histopathological slides into Neptune.
A prototype Neptune site has been developed on CSIRO systems. CSIRO-AAHL and the department are evaluating this prototype. Scanning of the slide collection is progressing and standardised annotation protocols for digitising slides will be considered by SCAAH.
This work was funded by the department, as part of the Australian Government 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||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.
- National laboratory proficiency testing program: 2013-15 program complete. Program in review and final report drafted. 2017-19 program has commenced.
- Aquatic animal health technical forum: 2013-15 program complete. Final report available on the FRDC’s website (FRDC Project 2012/002). The most recent FRDC Aquatic animal health technical forum was held at CSIRO-AAHL in February 2018.
- SCAAH now the administrator of the Aquatic Slide of the Quarter. This program is on-going.
- Laboratories for Emergency Animal Disease Diagnosis and Response (LEADDR): OsHV-1, WSSV and Megalocytivirus tests have been included in proficiency testing.
- Neptune: see activity 3.7.
An overview document describing Australia’s aquatic animal disease diagnosis network has been drafted and will be sent to SCAAH for consideration and comment.