Vetcommunique April 2014 AHC25 - edition 2014/2

Animal Health Committee 25 Face to Face, 25-26 March 2014

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

AHC meetings are attended by the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) of the Commonwealth, States and Territories, and representatives from New Zealand (NZ), Animal Health Australia (AHA), the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), and Animal Division (Department of Agriculture). National industry association representatives and industry representatives from the host jurisdiction also attend an AHC industry session as part of the meeting.

AHC met on 25-26 March 2014 in Tasmania. Dr Rod Andrewartha is the Tasmanian Chief Veterinary Officer and AHC Chair for 2014.
Further information on the structure of AHC can be found on the Department of Agriculture website at:

Key outcomes from AHC25 face-to-face

Key issues discussed by AHC included:

Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD) Management in Australia

AHC discussed the national approach to the future management of Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD) in Australia. Discussion acknowledged the difficulties in implementing an effective regulatory BJD control program given technical limitations with surveillance and diagnostics, the lack of international guidance such as from the OIE Code, risks from cross species transmission with small ruminants and difficulties in achieving a nationally consistent approach. AHC has agreed to investigate the commissioning of a comprehensive, risk based, national cost benefit analysis for the management of BJD in Australia that recognises these technical limitations. This would provide a basis to further discussion with Industry on future options for BJD management. AHC will continue to explore how to better standardise surveillance and testing in BJD zones.

Ongoing Avian Influenza Risks

AHC received an update on the work of their Avian Influenza Working Group (AI WG) which is exploring how Australia might better manage ongoing risks from avian influenza outbreaks, including in the free range poultry sector. AHC requested that a broader range of options be further developed by the AI WG including; enhancing biosecurity on high risk farms via extension and/or audit-certification, enhancing surveillance, aligning levels of outbreak compensation with biosecurity status, reconsidering the treatment of avian influenza under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement and considering the role of retailers given their push for free range production. When developed this options paper will be reconsidered by AHC and form the basis for industry consultation on the way forward.

National Enhanced General Surveillance Business Plan

AHC agreed that two national surveillance components were required for the animal health sector; a broader Animal Health Surveillance Strategy to be led by AHC incorporating the whole surveillance system; and an Enhanced General Surveillance Business Plan led by AHA which would be narrower, targeting the rapid implementation of activities to fill gaps in general surveillance of livestock such as via producer awareness campaigns and veterinary practitioner engagement. The Qld CVO was nominated as an additional AHC member on the Enhancing General Surveillance Steering Committee, while SA and WA were tasked with undertaking a review of previous AHC surveillance work and providing advice back to AHC on the development of the overarching Strategy.

Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Preparedness

AHC acknowledged the expectation from the National Biosecurity Committee for regular reporting on FMD preparedness, based on the FMD national action plan. AHC received reports on significant new programs within Qld and WA to enhance Emergency Animal Disease and FMD preparedness and their willingness to engage nationally and build on existing work. Specific areas identified for collaboration included FMD surveillance, response capacity and training, vaccination, carcase disposal and business continuity. Queensland requested that all AHC members provide contact points to better facilitate this national collaboration. It was noted that AHA would be initiating a swill feeding compliance program and that clearer information on timeframes would be provided.

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Evaluation

The Australian CVO provided information to AHC on OIE PVS Evaluation which is a successful, well established OIE initiative to evaluate national veterinary services, based on internationally agreed OIE standards on the quality of veterinary services. To date 117 countries around the world have had their veterinary services evaluated through the PVS process. AHC agreed that an international expert(s) from OIE will be invited to present an information session at the next AHC face-to-face meeting in Adelaide. Industry leaders and the Australian Veterinary Association will also be invited to hear from the OIE expert(s) on OIE PVS evaluation as part of the AHC industry session.

Hendra Virus Policy

AHC received a detailed update from AAHL on Hendra virus research and policy implications. AHC noted research findings indicating that recovered sero-positive animals represented only a negligible infectious risk via recrudescence. Therefore the current policy on mandatory destruction for these animals could be revisited such as through case-by-case determination by the relevant CVO. Although agreeing in principle, AHC requested that separate policies be developed for acutely infected animals that may recover and those sero-positive animals already recovered and that endorsement by the relevant health authorities be sought as required and documented.

AHC’s Animal Health Research Priorities

AHC agreed to the concept of AHC collectively developing and formally documenting its national animal health and biosecurity research priorities. Documented AHC research priorities may be provided to relevant researchers and input into the implementation of the National Animal Biosecurity Research, Development and Extension Strategy 2013-2016 being managed by AHA as well as established processes via the Centre for Excellence in Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA).

Shifting of the Bluetongue Zones

AHC discussed the letter received from the Sheepmeat Council of Australia acknowledging the risks of a clinical case of bluetongue in sheep, given shifting bluetongue zones. Enhancing trade preparedness for this risk will be progressed with industry through the Live Export Protocol Committee managed within the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.

Use of Buparvaquone

AHC discussed the use of Buparvaquone as a successful treatment for Theileriosis in cattle balanced against the residue risks it may pose, as investigated through a report commissioned by Meat and Livestock Australia. NZ use Buparvaquone under very strict conditions but did acknowledge the risks. AHC agreed that it would only support Buparvaquone use if NSW advised that there was strong and widespread whole-chain industry support.

Key Contacts

Dr Rod Andrewartha (AHC Chair 2014), Tasmanian CVO, 03 6165 3261
Dr Mark Schipp, Australian CVO, 02 6272 4644
Dr Rick Symons, Queensland CVO, 07 3087 8014
Dr Ian Roth, New South Wales CVO, 02 6391 3577
Dr Cameron Bell, Acting Victorian CVO, 03 5430 4545
Dr Malcolm Anderson, Northern Territory CVO, 08 8999 2130
Dr Roger Paskin, South Australian CVO, 08 8207 7970
Dr Michelle Rodan, Acting Western Australian CVO, 08 9368 3309
Dr Will Andrew, Australian Capital Territory CVO, 02 6207 2357
Dr Kurt Zuelke, Australian Animal Health Laboratories, 03 5227 5511
Dr Eva-Maria Bernoth, Animal Health Australia, 02 6203 3944
Dr Robyn Martin, Department of Agriculture, 02 6272 5364
Ms Joanne Nathan, Department of the Environment, 02 6275 9252
Dr John Stratton, Policy Coordinator, Animal Health Committee, 02 6272 5058
Ms Adela Padurean, Secretary, Animal Health Committee, 02 6272 4549

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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