Foot-and-mouth disease—staying one step ahead

Some of Australia’s greatest research minds in the field of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) converged on Canberra in September to discuss the work they are undertaking to prepare Australia for a major disease outbreak like FMD.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) hosted the annual workshop as part of the Improved Surveillance, Preparedness and Return to Trade for Emergency Animal Disease Incursions Using FMD as a Model Project (The Project).

Principal research scientist at the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Dr Wilna Vosloo, said Australia is free from foot-and-mouth disease due to our strict biosecurity measures. However, an outbreak of the disease would cost Australia’s livestock industries billions of dollars, mainly because of restrictions on the exports of animals and animal products.

This Project includes a number of sub-projects, all of which are looking at different ways we can effectively prepare for, control and contain an FMD outbreak as efficiently and quickly as possible,” Dr Vosloo said.

“In particular, these sub-projects involve studying vaccine options, demonstrating the value of farmer-led partnerships in animal health surveillance, improving outbreak modelling capability and developing tools that would assist in determining how farm-to-farm spread is occurring.

“The workshop allowed research and funding partners to come together and discuss the progress we’ve made.

“I’m pleased to report we’re on track, with some great work done in establishing the farmer-led surveillance study and gene sequencing to track the spread of the virus,” Dr Vosloo added.

“We’ve also established a research project website and social media presence to keep everyone up-to-date.”

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