Vetcommunique Volume 7 Issue 3

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Animal Health Committee (AHC), December 2007

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​Vetcommunique Vol 7. No 3. December 2007

Animal Health Committee Meetings 10 and 11, 2007

Welcome to the Animal Health Committee (AHC) newsletter for animal industry bodies. The aim of Vetcommuniqué is to provide a communication link between AHC and client industry bodies.

AHC has held four face-to-face meetings this year, with the last two being in Sydney.

AHC membership comprises the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) of the Commonwealth, States, Territories and New Zealand, and representatives from Biosecurity Australia and CSIRO. Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) and Animal Health Australia (AHA) attend AHC as observers. AHC also meets with industry representatives on specific items from time to time.

Western Australia (Dr Peter Buckman) hands over the Chair of the AHC to the Commonwealth for 2008. Dr Andy Carroll will take the position as Australian Chief Veterinary Officer and AHC Chair for 2008.

Key Outcomes from AHC10/11

Equine Influenza

he Equine influenza outbreak this year has predominantly been addressed through Australia’s emergency response mode, the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases. Its membership also comprises AHC, affected industry representation and one non-affected industry. AHC outcomes associated with the EI response include decisions to review the Rapid Response Team and Australian Veterinary Reserve programme to identify areas for improvement; and to provide Animal Health Australia with a definition of containment for the purposes of the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement.

Equine Influenza was first diagnosed on 22 August 2007 near Centennial Park in central Sydney. Disease remains confined to NSW and Queensland and the response remains on track to achieve the national goal of eradication.

AUSVETPLAN

AUSVETPLAN is a series of technical response plans that describe the proposed Australian approach to exotic disease incursions. AHC endorsed a modified manual review process chart and work-plan to manage the review and writing of AUSVETPLAN documents

The Australian Laboratory Response Capacity to an Emergency Disease Outbreak

The Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) is currently responsible for ensuring Australia has an effective laboratory response to an emergency disease outbreak. With recent surveillance activities for Avian Influenza and with the current Equine Influenza outbreak, a devolved laboratory network utilizing state laboratories supported by AAHL has proved useful in terms of speed of response and surge capacity management. At a recent World Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians meeting, a range of proven technologies were demonstrated that could be undertaken by standard non biosecurity level-3 laboratory facilities for diagnosis of exotic pathogens. The AHC has agreed to request the AHC subcommittee on Animal Health Laboratory Standards to develop a technical and procedural plan, and cost framework for a devolved network approach for responding to an emergency animal disease outbreak.

New memberships

AHC agreed for Dr Martyn Jeggo from AAHL to be the AHC nomination to the Environment Biosecurity Committee observer position.

AHC agreed for Dr Hugh Millar the Victorian Chief Veterinary Officer to be the AHC nomination to the National Animal Health Surveillance Strategy Reference Group membership position.

Outcomes

Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) DFTD is having a severe effect on the wild Tasmanian Devil population. The disease persists even at a very low population density and extinction of Tasmanian Devils is now seen as a real risk and could occur within a few decades. A strategy to produce an “insurance” population large enough to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible is being implemented.

AHC agreed to numerous movement and quarantine procedures to assist in the strategy. These include allowing Category 1 Devils (very low disease risk) to be held in wildlife institutions in mainland jurisdictions without specific quarantine requirements, and allowing them to be moved between mainland wildlife institutions with advance notice to the receiving jurisdiction. AHC agreed to wild dispersing young Tasmanian Devils caught in January to March 2008 in areas of Tasmania believed to be DFTD free, be moved as Category 2 Devils (low disease risk) to undergo quarantine in appropriate institutions in mainland jurisdictions. AHC also agreed to the 31 Devils caught wild in 2007 held at a Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water facility be moved to particular classified institutions under certain conditions.

National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP)

The NAMP provides surveillance activities to determine the distribution of arbovirus in Australia such as Bluetongue, and Akabane, i.e. viruses spread by mosquitoes. Currently this is funded one third federal government, one third by state government and one third by industry. The Centre for International Economics have produced a report on future funding options for NAMP based on the programs beneficiaries. AHC has agreed that Australian Animal Health Laboratories will produce a technical review paper for the next AHC meeting noting the need for a resolution on funding issues. Newcastle Disease Management Plan The current Newcastle Disease Response Plan 2006/07 developed through Animal Health Australia expires at the end of 2007. AHC has agreed to extend the Newcastle Disease Management Plan until 31 March 2008 to allow for further time for it to be updated and approved by AHC and the poultry industry.

Australian Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance Program

Bovine Tuberculosis surveillance is now managed through the Australian Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance Program following the completion of the Tuberculosis Freedom Assurance Program-2. A property in Vanrook, Queensland was the last TB positive property. AHC agreed to request Queensland to report to AHC and the Cattle Council on the status of Bovine TB on this property, including if there is any intention of carrying out the complement fixation-3 test. AHC also agreed to the development of a new National Animal Health Information System (NAHIS) project to include recording the majority of TB Tuberculin testing data undertaken each year for export (i.e. number of cattle that have passed testing and have been exported) and the number of cattle testing positive and excluded from export.

National Animal Health Information System database project to record testing results of Avian Influenza (AI) and Newcastle Disease (ND)

This project has been developed on the basis that testing results of AI and ND investigations in Australia are needed to meet the World Organization for Animal Health reporting requirements and accurately reflect Australia’s AI and ND status and surveillance activities to international audiences. AHC has endorsed the data entry process for NAHIS to record testing results of AI and ND and that NAHIS coordinators are required to enter all testing data and where positive, subtypes categories.

AHC also endorsed avenues in which AI and ND reports would be made public.

FMD Vaccine Bank Research

The Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank was established by Animal Health Australia in 2004. The vaccine bank contains representative antigens for seven strains of FMD virus. Vaccine from the bank can be delivered to Australia within seven days of ordering. It was noted that AHC’s role in the FMD bank is mainly to provide technical input. The supply of antigens for diagnostic testing to allow the separation of vaccinated from naturally infected animals is a core capability that will be needed if vaccine is used and it was agreed that AAHL would undertake to produce these antigens and the linked diagnostics tests for use in Australia. AHC agreed that there is merit in further research into the FMD vaccines for developing Australian knowledge and capabilities and supports this research as a high priority. This is particularly important in terms of understanding the response both in pigs and sheep. It was recognised however that funding for such work is outside the remit of AHC.

National Recognition of Veterinary Registration

In October 2006, AHC established a working group with representatives from AHC, the Australian Veterinary Boards Council and the Australian Veterinary Association to develop a model such that a veterinarian registered in one jurisdiction is, without further registration in other jurisdictions able to practice in all jurisdictions. All jurisdictional boards except Queensland have endorsed a “Principles Document” prepared by the National Recognition of Veterinary Registration Working Group. Queensland have received legal opinion
that the national model could not be adopted into legislation in Queensland. AHC has noted that Queensland is seeking further legal opinion. AHC has agreed that signoff of the National Recognition of Veterinary Registration model should be concluded by the end of 2008.

National Approach to Ovine Johne’s Disease

AHC noted the approach of the sheep industries National OJD Management Program 2007-12.

Key Contacts

  • Dr Brian Radunz, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), NT, ph 08 8999 2130
  • Dr Hugh Millar, Chief Veterinary Officer, VIC, ph 03 9217 4247
  • Dr Bob Biddle, Australian Chief Veterinary Officer (A/g), DAFF, ph 02 6272 5364
  • Dr Ron Glanville, Chief Veterinary Officer, QLD, ph 07 3239 3525
  • Dr Bruce Christie, Chief Veterinary Officer, NSW, ph 02 6391 3717
  • Dr Peter Buckman (Chair 2007), Chief Veterinary Officer, WA, ph 08 9368 3342
  • Dr Rob Rahaley, Chief Veterinary Officer, SA, ph 08 8207 7970
  • Dr Rod Andrewartha, Chief Veterinary Officer, TAS, ph 6233 6836
  • Dr Robyn Martin, General Manager, Biosecurity Australia, ph 02 6272 5444
  • Dr Ian Denney, Manager, Veterinary Services, Animal Health Australia, ph 02 6203 3944
  • Dr Will Andrew, Chief Veterinary Officer, ACT, ph 02 6207 2357
  • Dr Martyn Jeggo, Director AAHL, CSIRO, ph 03 5227 5511
  • Dr Adrian Coghill, Animal Health Secretary DAFF, 02 6272 3096
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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