Fit to trade bulletin

Abattoir surveillance helps contain spread of virulent footrot

Sheep in saleyards
Check lame sheep by examining the foot for the cause.

Surveillance at regional abattoirs across the state is continuing while the season remains conducive to footrot lesions being detected. 

Eight new cases of virulent footrot have been detected as a result of abattoir inspections to date this season (Oct 2017 to Feb 2018). A further group of six were detected as a result of tracing from these abattoir detections.

Abattoir detection of virulent footrot enables containment of the disease and prevents further spread.

Footrot is caused by the bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus, with the virulent, more serious form of the organism regulated under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007

Virulent footrot causes lameness and productivity loss in sheep, depending on the severity of the disease.

Once virulent footrot is identified via a positive laboratory result, the sheep on the property are placed under quarantine to stop spread to other farms. Quarantined stock can only be moved to abattoir or export depots under permit.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) officers then work with the property owner to develop a plan that aims to eradicate or control the disease in their flock through management procedures in order to be released from quarantine. Immediate neighbours are also notified with advice on how to best protect their flocks. 

DPIRD officers continue to work to contain spread by examining all traces to and from an affected property in the previous 12 months.

Spread of virulent footrot occurs when property owners are not aware that their sheep have the disease and continue open selling. Sheep owners are required to report lameness in sheep where virulent footrot is suspected.

Producers are urged to be vigilant in checking prospective purchases for signs of lameness and to practice good biosecurity by holding introduced sheep in a separate paddock to the main flock until they are verified as disease-free.

DPIRD officers will continue to undertake abattoir surveillance for virulent footrot until early April.

The Footrot Control Program is funded by the Western Australian sheep and goat industry through the the Sheep and Goat Industry Funding Scheme, with daily operational activities managed by DPIRD biosecurity officers.

For more information on footrot, contact your local DPIRD biosecurity officer or see our footrot webpage.