Vetcommunique Volume 8 Issue 3

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Animal Health Committee (AHC), June 2008

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​Vetcommunique Vol 8. No 3. June 2008

Animal Health Committee Meeting 13, May 2008

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 last met on 6-8 May 2008 in Darwin. AHC13 also held teleconferences on 3 and 15 April 2008.

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.

Dr Andy Carroll is the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer and AHC Chair for 2008.

Key Outcomes from AHC13

Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Preparedness Training

AHC has formed a working group to review the current EAD training activities across Australia, taking into account the experiences gained in recent EAD outbreaks including Equine Influenza. Review tasks include:

  •  identifying the skills, knowledge and behaviours required by jurisdictions of government and non-government personnel including veterinarians;
  •  evaluating the contributions of existing EAD training programs including the Rapid Response Team, Australian Veterinary Reserve, state-run weekend workshops, and Australian Animal Health Laboratory courses;
  • evaluating the roles and contributions of pre-incident and incident induction training to evaluate the preparedness and performance of personnel engaged in the Equine Influenza response.
  • recommend opportunities for either improvements or alternatives to existing preparedness programs including training;
  • to identify any other opportunities/issues that may enhance/detract from the effective utilization of nongovernment personnel including veterinarians in an EAD response;
  • and provide a set of objectives, outcomes and potential benefits of a national training program and provide options to establish, coordinate and deliver a national EAD training program.

An interim report of findings has been provided to AHC. Dr Bob Biddle from DAFF is the Chair of the working group.

National Horse Registration

The Primary Industries Standing Committee requested that AHC consider the concept of national horse registration. AHC is of the view that individual horse registration would be very complex due to the frequent changes in horse ownership. AHC also noted that notifications of horse movements as required with the National Livestock Identification System would be of limited practicality due to the very frequent movement of horses. AHC viewed that the primary benefit of an individual horse registration system would be a reduction
in horse thefts.

AHC is of the opinion that any scheme should be national, standardized, voluntary, not linked to the collection of levies. Property and vent registration has been suggested as a better alternative for a disease control and traceability perspective.

AHC has asked Animal Health Australia (AHA) to convene a working group to develop a proposal for national horse registration for report to AHC in September 2008. AHA is also to liaise with industry and also draw on any programs used within Australia already.

National Significant Disease Investigation Program (NSDIP)

AHC supported the 2008-09 Business Plan for the NSDIP. AHC nominated a senior veterinary officer from each jurisdiction to form a working group to develop the operational detail for the program. The national SDI program involves a subsidy to veterinary practitioners to help overcome the limitations of conducting disease investigations in the current situation of low animal values, high laboratory costs and other limiting factors.

Australian Reference Laboratory Network

AHC recognizes the need for funding to support Australia’s reference laboratories and supports in principle that within the framework of the National Animal Health Laboratories Strategy Coordination Committee, longer term funding to maintain national reference laboratories must be a priority.

AHC agreed that the Anthrax, Johne’s disease and Tuberculosis reference laboratories are necessary and in the national interest. AHC does not however support government cost sharing of investment in the Ovine Footrot Reference Laboratory, and Animal Health Australia is to discuss the financial support of this reference laboratory with industry.

AHC previously agreed that each of the reference laboratories fulfils different roles, equal contributions to each will not be appropriate, and that resource allocation should be based on capability maintenance rather than quantification of need. Business Cases were submitted from the reference laboratories and subsequent recommendations have been made to the National Biosecurity Committee regarding their funding.

Other Outcomes

  • AHC endorsed in principle the Laboratories for Emergency Animal Disease Diagnosis concept produced by the AHC subcommittee on Animal Health Laboratory Standards. It draws on similar national networks being developed in the USA and Canada, with whom Australia has been collaborating. 
  • AHC has provided Animal Health Australia with an agreed definition of “containment” for consideration by the parties to the  Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement deed. The definition takes into  account consideration given to “containment” in light of the Equine Influenza experience and the parallel consideration by the Primary Industries Standing Committee.
  • AHC agreed on a number of activities to address Foot and Mouth Disease management vulnerabilities that have been indentified to exist within Australia Wildlife Event Investigation Team (WEIT) AHC endorsed the further development of the WEIT. The background to the WEIT is that back in September 2004, DAFF funded a meeting of state coordinators from the Australian Wildlife Health  Network (through the Frawley initiatives) to discuss the integration of wildlife health surveillance into the National Animal Health Surveillance System. Subsequent work by a reference group proposed a framework for the WEIT to sit within the Animal Health
    Australia National Animal Disease Surveillance Program.

Future Animal Health Committee Meetings

  • AHC14 teleconference number 1 is scheduled for 23 July 2008.
  • AHC14 face-to-face is scheduled for 22-24 September 2008 in Queenstown, New Zealand.

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 Andy Carroll (AHC Chair 2008), Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, DAFF ph 02 6272 4644
  • 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, 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 03 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 3921
  • Dr Will Andrew, Chief Veterinary Officer, ACT ph 02 6207 2357
  • Dr Martyn Jeggo, Director AAHL, CSIRO ph 03 5227 5511
  • Dr Adrian Coghill, Secretary Animal Health Committee, DAFF ph 02 6272 3096
  • Dr Narelle Clegg, Manager AQIS Exports and Animal Programs Division, DAFF ph 02 6272 4523
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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