The Early detection of EADs subproject aimed to reduce the amount of time it would take to detect an outbreak of an EAD, such as foot and mouth disease, in WA by:
- Building the capability of livestock producers, veterinarians and other regional livestock stakeholders to recognise and report potential EADs;
- Strengthening regional disease surveillance networks, including providing a financial incentive for livestock producers to report disease;
- Implementing a biosecurity surveillance information system to facilitate recording, analysis, mapping and reporting of livestock disease surveillance in Western Australia; and
- Purchasing an automated testing platform to integrate with other laboratory equipment to streamline, automate and speed up testing of samples in the event of a biosecurity incursion.
Engagement and promotion for early detection of emergency animal diseases
A series of activities were conducted by the subproject team to increase awareness of: the signs and potential impact of Foot and Mouth Disease and other emergency animal diseases; the importance of early detection to animal industries; roles and responsibilities in the event of an EAD; how/who to report suspect cases to; and the availability of subsidy programs to support disease investigations. A total of more than 120 face to face, targeted activities were delivered overall, reaching just over 1500 target participants directly. The face to face activities were specifically targeted at producers, private veterinarians, saleyard workers, abattoir workers, livestock transporters, livestock sales agents and tertiary education groups; and included workshops, field days, training sessions, presentations and more. Other more broadly targeted engagement activities included displays at major events (such as Dowerin Field days and Wagin Woolorama), bulk mail outs, and a selection of posters, banners, signs etc. promoting the early detection of emergency animal disease message.
Subsidised Disease Investigation pilot program
A financial incentive pilot program, the ‘WA’ SDI (Subsidised Disease Investigation) pilot program, was developed and implemented through the subproject to subsidise the veterinary cost (professional fees and mileage) to livestock producers of investigating signs of disease in their animals. The pilot program ran for 3 years from April 2015 to March 2018 and could be initiated by producers as well as veterinarians. The SDI pilot program significantly exceeded its target of 300 subsidised disease investigations; conducting 481 by 31st March 2018.
‘Reportable exclusions’ are tests assigned to submitted tissue samples within the laboratory as a means of ruling out specific diseases not currently present in Australia. Reportable exclusion testing needs to be ongoing; and results are provided to relevant Australian Government Agencies to support Australia’s disease-free status for specific emergency animal diseases. The SDI pilot program had a target of 100 reportable exclusions to be achieved by the project end. Of the 481 SDI pilot program cases conducted, a very high 308 of those SDI cases resulted in reportable exclusions.
Biosecurity Intelligence Platform
A new livestock biosecurity surveillance system, the Biosecurity Intelligence Platform (BIP) was designed and developed, then integrated with other DPIRD systems as part of this sub project. BIP went ‘live’ on 30th November 2017, and user testing and training was conducted as part of the implementation activity. BIP is a platform for recording information relevant to early detection of animal diseases for WA in real time; replacing the previous situation of separate, non-integrated platforms. The overall intent is for DPIRD/WA to have the capacity for faster identification and analysis of surveillance information, resulting in potential earlier detection of an EAD. The system also provides the capability to produce multiple reports for internal use and National reporting.
Automated Testing Platform
An automated Testing Platform (ATP) was purchased which, when integrated with other laboratory equipment/robotics in DPIRD’s Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DDLS), has sped up sample throughput (by a factor of 4) and increased efficiency and reproducibility with no increase in running costs. The DDLS consider the platform and integrated equipment to be of major benefit, with higher throughput, greater reproducibility, less error and less staff fatigue.