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 WA livestock disease outlookfor producers (WALDO) is collated from information collected by DAFWA and private veterinarians as part of proving Australia’s freedom from those diseases.

Recent significant cases submitted to the Animal Health Laboratories (AHL)

Case data from mid-April to mid-May 2015

Avian influenza (AI) and Newcastle disease (ND) exclusions in sudden deaths in poultry

  • An increase in poultry deaths on a small poultry property was reported to the Emergency Animal Disease hotline (1800 675 888).
  • DAFWA veterinarians investigated on-property and sampled sick birds while observing strict biosecurity practices. Some birds had access to open grass paddocks allowing exposure to wild birds and increasing the risk of introduction of avian influenza.
  • Moderate coughing could be heard in the poultry shed. Some birds had swelling of the head and discharge around their eyes. About 10–20 birds were depressed and weak.
  • Samples were taken and tested at the Animal Health Laboratories (AHL) and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) and were negative for avian influenza and Newcastle disease. Endemic respiratory disease associated with a nutritional deficiency were the likely cause of illness.

Read more on avian influenza and Newcastle disease.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and vesicular stomatitis (VS) exclusion testing in cattle

  • Routine abattoir monitoring found a suspicious fluid-filled swelling on the tongue of a two-toothed bovine. The abattoir veterinarians saw no other evidence of disease in that line of cattle.
  • The property of origin was traced using the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and property identification code (PIC) databases and the remaining cattle on the property were examined for signs of disease. A single beast in a herd of about 230 was detected with a similar ruptured swelling in the central part of the tongue. The herd and affected animal were healthy.
  • Samples were taken and testing was conducted at AAHL for foot-and-mouth disease and vesicular stomatitis on both lesions. The test results were negative confirming Australia’s claims for freedom from these two trade-sensitive diseases.
  • A recent change to a coarse feed source was thought to have been the cause of the injuries on the tongues.

Read more on foot-and-mouth disease.

Collapse and weakness in a cow in the South West

  • A case of collapse was investigated in a six-year-old dairy cow in the South West coastal area.
  • The cow had calved 12 weeks ago and had gradually lost condition.
  • The cow had stopped eating over the past few days and the whites of the eyes and gums had a yellow appearance.
  • Laboratory testing of blood samples showed very low red blood cell levels resulting in severe anaemia. There was also evidence of liver damage.
  • Copper levels were tested and were within normal limits and leptospirosis was also ruled out as a cause of disease.
  • Examination of the blood smears found Theileria-like organisms in the red blood cells, and further testing confirmed a diagnosis of Theileria orientalis var. ikeda. Theileria orientalis is a protozoal parasite spread by bush ticks that causes anaemia in cattle especially around the time of calving.

Read more on bovine anaemia due to Theileria orientalis group (BATOG).