Health & Welfare Update

WoolProducers representative participates in ‘real time’ Foot & Mouth Disease training in Nepal

with Amanda Olthof

Amanda Olthof, WoolProducers Policy Director along with nine other Australians recently participated in a ‘real-time’ training course on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in regional Nepal.

 

The training program has been developed and delivered by the European Commission for the Control of FMD (EuFMD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) with support from the Australian government. The training aims to improve Australia’s early detection and response capability for an FMD outbreak, while at the same time assisting with disease management in Nepal.

During the training in Nepal Amanda and fellow participants gained practical experience on how the disease symptoms develop in infected livestock including FMD lesion identification and ageing, lesion sampling, real-time FMD outbreak investigation to track the infection and consideration of appropriate disease control measures such as vaccination.

Most rural Nepalese are subsistence farmers and milk is an important food for the family; cows that recover from FMD usually suffer a permanent reduction in lactation, so the effects of infection are long-term. Uncontrolled movement of animals within the country and across borders facilitates the spread of FMD in Nepal. Cultural celebrations, including the ritual slaughter of imported FMD infected goats often initiate outbreaks in Nepalese villages.

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is the most significant biosecurity threat to Australia’s livestock industries, with recent ABARE modelling estimating that a large multi-state FMD outbreak would reduce Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.16 per cent or $23.6 billion in present value terms over 10 years.

A diagnosis of FMD or even a strong suspicion of FMD anywhere in Australia may result in a national livestock ‘standstill’, which means no movement of all species of animals susceptible to FMD for at least 72 hours, with dramatic consequences for all of us. “We hope it never happens, but through this program we have a network of people who are trained and know how to manage FMD outbreaks,” Amanda said.

The trip reinforced the need for strong biosecurity and the role that everyone plays in this age of shared responsibility. This can be as simple as correctly filling in NLIS and vendor declaration forms and requesting a Sheep Health Declaration when purchasing sheep.

Early reporting is vitally important. If you suspect FMD in any way, immediately call your vet or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888. Early reporting can make a huge difference to the size and cost of the outbreak.

WoolProducers Australia contributes on-going funding for industry participants to attend the training alongside government vets. Please contact Amanda for more information on the 2018 Real Time Training program in Nepal on 0428 910 275 or aolthof@woolproducers.com.au.