Disease surveillance and reporting

​​​Australia’s aquatic animal disease surveillance and reporting system comprises components to:

  • require domestic reporting of diseases, including those on Australia’s National List of Reportable Diseases of Aquatic Animals
  • provide field and laboratory diagnostic resources, including the Aquatic Animal Diseases Significant to Australia: Identification Field Guide 4th Edition
  • provide disease surveillance guidelines.

Domestic reporting of aquatic animal diseases

The management of enzootic aquatic animal diseases within Australia’s states and territories is the responsibility of each individual state or territory. States and territories have their own legislative requirements for reporting aquatic animal disease incidents within their jurisdiction, including their own list of reportable diseases of aquatic animals. State and territory reportable disease lists are updated to reflect Australia’s National List of Reportable Diseases of Aquatic Animals, which ensures they can meet their reporting requirements to the Australian Government.

Australia’s list of reportable diseases

All states and territories provide regular reports to the Australian Government on the status of the diseases on Australia’s National List of Reportable Diseases of Aquatic Animals. Provision is also made for reporting of new or emerging aquatic animal diseases, and national communication of these diseases. Updates to diseases on the national list are considered annually.

The Quarterly Aquatic Animal Disease Database is the Aquatic Animal Health Program’s method for collecting and collating data from state and territory reports on disease status.

Diagnostic resources

A range of resources have been developed to ensure Australia maintains the capacity to identify and diagnose aquatic animal diseases of national significance.

Aquatic Animal Diseases Significant to Australia: Identification Field Guide

The Aquatic Animal Diseases Significant to Australia: Identification Field Guide 4th Edition was published in September 2012. The field guide aims to help people recognise diseases significant to aquaculture and fisheries in Australia. The fourth edition covers 48 aquatic animal diseases that affect species of finfish, crustaceans, molluscs and amphibians, including those listed on Australia’s National List of Reportable Diseases of Aquatic Animals. A USB copy of the field guide can be requested by contacting the department.

Laboratory Proficiency Testing

The Australian Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program for Aquatic Animal Diseases provides a valuable means for Australia’s laboratories to test their capability to correctly diagnose aquatic animal diseases of national significance. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources funded program is open to Australian aquatic animal disease diagnostic laboratories.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Diagnostic Procedures (ANZSDPs)

ANZSDPs are used to facilitate the standardisation of diagnostic test methodology and the interpretation of results. The procedures are written by scientists and maintained by the Animal Health Committee (AHC) National Labor Task Force. Check the current aquatic ANZSDPs, which are also used for surveillance and virus isolation.

ANZSDPs are consistent with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines, but may exceed those requirements where special procedures and interpretation are necessary for Australian and New Zealand circumstances. If an ANZSDP has not been developed for a particular test, the methods recommended in the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals should be used. You can download a copy of the manual from the OIE website.

Disease Surveillance Guidelines

Surveillance programs are important to ensure early detection and response to aquatic animal disease incidents. Aquatic animals are cultured in a wide variety of culture systems, each with their own unique circumstances. Surveillance systems need to be developed for each individual culture system, building on basic surveillance principles. National surveillance guidelines PDF  [302 KB, 37 pages] have been developed for domestic situations. The guidelines recommend the level of proof required to demonstrate freedom from disease, and elements to be considered when designing and implementing an appropriate surveillance system.

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