Northern WA Livestock Disease Outlook - for producers

Why DAFWA carries out surveillance for livestock disease

Australia’s access to markets for livestock and livestock products depends on evidence from our surveillance systems that we are free of reportable and trade-sensitive livestock diseases. To gather this proof of freedom, the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) investigates cases where livestock show signs similar to reportable or trade-sensitive diseases. The Northern WA livestock disease outlook is collated from information collected by DAFWA and private veterinarians as part of proving Australia’s freedom from those diseases.

Recent disease investigations and disease monitoring activities

December 2014 – April 2015

Disease monitoring programs that support market access for producers

  • Over the next few months DAFWA field veterinary officers will visit properties throughout Western Australia that are part of the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP) to conduct blood sampling of cattle.
  • The program monitors the distribution of economically important insect-borne diseases of livestock and the insects that transmit them.
  • NAMP specifically monitors for Akabane virus, bovine ephemeral fever virus (‘three day sickness’) and bluetongue virus, which supports the live export trade of sheep, cattle and goats to countries requiring certification of freedom from these diseases.
  • Test results from the blood samples provide evidence of which WA producers are in a bluetongue virus free zone, which gives them access to additional lucrative export markets.
  • Read more on NAMP and bluetongue virus.

Neurological cases in horses

  • A West Kimberley station reported four horses with wobbly gaits, losing condition or which were found dead.
  • All four horses were less than two years of age and grazing with adult horses.
  • One of the horses was examined by the department’s field veterinary officer in late March 2015 and showed the following disease signs:
    • fever – 40◦C
    • wobbly, staggering gait followed by lying down
    • jaundice (yellowing) of the white part of the eye.
  • The vet submitted samples for laboratory testing for diseases with similar signs, such as:
    • Hendra virus – reportable disease
    • Pyrrolizdine alkaloid toxicoses – (‘Kimberley walkabout disease’)
    • Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) – reportable disease
    • Flaviviruses (viruses spread by mosquito):
      • Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MNV)
      • West Nile virus (WNV) –  reportable disease
      • West Nile virus – Kunjin strain – reportable disease
  • Results were negative for all reportable diseases tested. Liver damage was evident on blood samples taken and ‘Kimberley walkabout disease’ could not be ruled out as a disease cause.
  • Neurological signs in stock, including wobbly, staggering gait, inability to rise, falling over and sudden death should be investigated by a private veterinarian or department field veterinary officer as they could be one of the reportable diseases listed above.
  • Read more on Hendra virus and Australian bat lyssavirus.

Bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) response in the Kimberley

  • Five affected properties in the Kimberley are continuing to work closely with the department to resolve suspicion of BJD infection due to the tracing of imported bulls from an infected property in Queensland.
  • As part of ongoing property management plans, further surveillance testing of the affected herds will be conducted this year to satisfy the requirements of the National Johne’s Disease Control Program.
  • The January 2015 industry update and future updates will be posted on the Bovine Johne’s disease response in the Kimberley webpage.

National Bovine Johne’s Disease Strategic Plan Review

  • The BJD Steering Committee requested that Animal Health Australia (AHA) bring forward a planned review for the National BJD Strategic Plan to 2015.
  • The first meetings were held in Sydney on 16–17 February 2015 and were attended by community, industry and government representatives.
  • The first discussion paper collating submissions received in February 2015 and providing future direction of this review is now available for comment on the AHA website by visiting the National BJD Strategic Plan review webpage.