Animal health surveillance in WA | Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

Animal health surveillance in WA | Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development


Western Australia has a well-deserved reputation
for producing healthy livestock free from major diseases and residues that could harm human
health or damage our ability to sell livestock within Australia or overseas. This reputation is based on a rigorous biosecurity
system within a national framework that demonstrates to a scientific standard that our livestock
are fit to trade. The Western Australian animal health surveillance
system is a vital part of this framework, which enables us to export 80% of our livestock
and livestock product annually. This generated the state of Western Australia
$2 billion in export income in 2015/16. Western Australia’s animal health surveillance
system consists of a set of programs designed to look for evidence that animals are free
from specific diseases that could affect trade such as foot-and-mouth disease or bluetongue
disease, or human health such as mad cow disease or highly pathogenic avian influenza. Our surveillance system also looks for new
or emerging diseases including in wildlife that could affect trade or human health. We gain data about the presence or absence
of these diseases when a producer or other member of the livestock industries calls a
vet to investigate sick animals and to submit samples to the laboratory for testing. Data from this information is crucial for
proving to international markets that we are free of these diseases. The producer also benefits from getting a
diagnosis of what is causing the problem, which enables them to prevent further losses
and optimise their production. To encourage producers to report sick animals,
the Department subsidises laboratory testing and veterinarian costs for diseases where there are unusual numbers of animal deaths or the
signs that look similar to those that could affect public health or market access. We also gain data via targeted surveillance
programs such as the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP). Through NAMP, works with WA producers
to monitor for bluetongue virus in cattle and for presence of insects that could spread
the virus. This allows parts of WA to claim area freedom
for bluetongue virus and so trade into additional high-value markets. Our surveillance systems are designed to find
diseases early, so that we can eradicate them more quickly, reducing the cost of control
and impact on our markets. Trading partners regularly examine our surveillance
capacity and judge how quickly we could detect a new disease. Everyone who works with livestock, including
producers, vets, stock agents, transporters and processors, is a frontline member of WA’s
animal health surveillance team. To keep Western Australia’s livestock healthy
and markets open: It is most important to look at your stock
frequently and closely for any signs of disease. If several animals are sick or die, call a
vet to investigate. Talk to your vet about subsidies
available for livestock disease investigations. Remember that exotic diseases can look similar
to common diseases. Know the signs of emergency animal diseases
such as foot-and-mouth disease and call your vet or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888 immediately if you see signs
of the disease. You can subscribe to a Surveillance
e-newsletter, the WA Livestock Disease Outlook, for regular updates about diseases to watch
for in your area. Thank you for playing your critical role in
WA’s animal health surveillance system.

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