Vetcommunique Volume 8 Issue 2

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Animal Health Committee (AHC), March 2008




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​Vetcommunique Vol 8. No 2. March 2008

Animal Health Committee Meeting 12, February 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 met on 13 February 2008 at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Canberra.

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 AHC12

Equine Influenza (EI)

Preliminary investigations indicate EI infection was present in Australia since 18 August 2007. EI was contained to
parts of NSW and Qld. The epidemic has been halted with no new infections detected since 25 December 2007.

The proof of freedom surveillance phase has been completed by NSW and Qld. The 12 month interval since the last detected case required for the declaration of country freedom by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) means Australia can be declared free as of 25 December 2008 if no more cases are seen. Whilst most of the policy work done on the EI has been done through the AHC’s emergency mode the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases, the AHC has agreed to form an Emergency Animal
Disease (EAD) Preparedness Training Working Group to look at developing national EAD recognition nd response training. The AHC has also been investigating options available for the use of EI vaccine where EI is no longer present in the Australia. Current policy is not to provide approval of exotic disease vaccine for use in nonemergency situations. Some horse industry sectors have stated they intend to continue vaccination against EI post outbreak.

Eradication of Enzootic Bovine Leukosis (EBL) from Australian Dairy Herds

A discussion paper “Eradicating Enzootic Bovine Leukosis from the Australian Dairy Herd” was presented to AHC. It discussed options including doing nothing, a holding approach and a proposal for eradication. Current surveillance arrangements have no obvious end point and it is recognized that a decision needs to be made on the future approach to EBL in Australia. Eradication is seen to be feasible if it has complete relevant industry and government support. AHC have agreed for the discussion paper being provided to Dairy Australia as part of initial industry consultation.

For the Australian dairy herd to be considered officially free of EBL by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), the concept of compartmentalization is used where the Australian dairy herd is considered a sub-population of the national cattle population with a distinct EBL status. There are currently 43 EBL infected herds out of a total of 7706 herds nationally.

Arguments for eradication include that Australia is close to achieving eradication, it provides an end point to current surveillance and there are potential trade benefits. Arguments against eradication include the current lack of strong market drivers for eradication and the marginally increased cost to industry.

New memberships

AHC agreed for Dr Martyn Jeggo from AAHL to be the AHC nomination to the Regulations and Standard Working Group position. This working group is to provide support to the Implementation Advisory and Consultative Committee in its establishment of a national regulatory scheme for security sensitive biological agents.


Ovine Johnes Disease Abattoir Surveillance rocedures for reporting and follow up of OJD infected lines and flocks detected by abattoir surveillance are yet to be incorporated into the “National Guidelines for the Implementation of Assurance-Based OJD Management in Sheep.” New abattoir surveillance arrangements require reports from inspections to be reported to the National Abattoir Surveillance Coordinator, who will report positive data generated from direct lines for all prevalence areas and indirect lines for very low and low prevalence areas to the State Abattoir Surveillance Coordinator. AHC is currently proposing amendments to the follow-up procedures for abattoir surveillance from indirect lines (abattoir kill lines of sheep consigned by multiple producers) where the sheep originate from very low and low prevalence areas.

Ritual Slaughter Review Progress

In mid 2007 both Animals Australia and the RSPCA publicly criticised the practice and regulatory oversight of ritual slaughter allowed under the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption (the Standard). The Federal Agriculture Minister in August 2007 tasked Animal Welfare Working Group (AWWG) with advising Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC) by November 2007 on whether the process allowed under the Standard was appropriate in animal welfare terms. That timeline has been set back as a result of work created by the Equine Influenza outbreak. It is expected that AHC will be provided the final AWWG report for consideration at the earliest April 2008.

New Animal Welfare Committee

An Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) has been proposed. The Animal Welfare Working Group will assume the role of technical advisory group to the AWC and that secretariat function for AWC will be provided by the Animal Welfare Unit within DAFF. AWC is to sit at the same level as AHC and report to the Primary Industries Standing Committee (PISC) through a taskforce which will consult with the new National Biosecurity Committee on submissions.

Future Animal Health Committee Meetings

  • AHC13 teleconference number 1 is scheduled for 2pm AEST 3 April 2008.
  • AHC13 face-to-face is planned for 6-8 May 2008 in Darwin.
  • AHC14 is planned for late September in NZ.

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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