Know the number - 1800 675 888
The Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Hotline is a national toll-free telephone number that supports Australia’s general surveillance system for animal diseases by facilitating easy reporting of unusual disease signs in livestock, poultry or aquatic animals in Western Australia. Your call will be answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by trained operators in the WA call centre.
Ensure you have this number saved in your phone:
When to call the EAD Hotline:
- suspicion of an exotic or emergency animal disease in livestock – for example: foot and mouth disease
- unusual disease signs, abnormal behaviour and/or unexpected deaths in your livestock
- suspicion of an exotic pest
- to report a reportable animal disease in WA.
Recent livestock disease investigations
Lupinosis and hepatic encephalopathy in sheep within the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions
Multiple properties across southern WA extending from the Wheatbelt region to the Great Southern have been impacted by lupinosis in sheep:
- One property in the Wheatbelt had 50 deaths and 330 affected from a flock of 1,500 over a period of 5 days. The mob consisted of 8 month-old Merino lambs. The sheep were grazing a lupin crop stubble, plus oaten hay. A rainfall event occurred 2 weeks prior to the sheep showing clinical signs.
- The affected lambs showed neurological signs: altered mentation, stargazing and appeared blind.
- A DPIRD field veterinarian examined the sheep, conducted a post-mortem and submitted samples for laboratory testing. On post-mortem, the lamb had an enlarged pale, tan to yellow coloured liver with acinar/nutmeg pattern. This is a characteristic finding of lupinosis.
- DDLS laboratory testing excluded lead toxicosis, which also causes blindness and dull mentation in sheep (and cattle). Lead toxicosis is a risk to human food safety and access to export markets if found in food-producing animals.
- Annual ryegrass toxicity (ARGT) was excluded via testing of the rumen fluid.
- Histopathologic examination led to the diagnosis of lupinosis and hepatic encephalopathy.
- Lupinosis is a liver disease caused by the consumption of lupin stubble colonised by the fungus Diaporthe toxica. It can be expressed in either an acute form or as a chronic liver dysfunction syndrome. The acute form is most likely to occur after summer rains where the lupin stalk becomes softened and more palatable to livestock.
- All livestock are susceptible to lupinosis but sheep are the most susceptible. Weaners are most commonly affected because they tend to eat the stem of the lupin.
- Sheep and cattle showing neurological signs may qualify for a subsidised investigation under the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) program.
For more information, see the DPIRD Lupinosis in sheep webpage.
Reportable infectious abortion agents of ewes ruled out by DPIRD
Abortion of over 30 lambs from mixed-aged ewes in confinement pens in the Great Southern region:
- Only a few pens were affected, both single and twin-bearing ewes, at 4 months gestation.
- Ewes were of good body condition and up to date with vaccinations.
- The private veterinarian contacted a DPIRD field veterinary officer and was granted approval for subsidised testing via the Significant Disease Investigation (SDI) program.
- The private veterinarian collected the appropriate base samples and additional diagnostic samples for submission to the laboratory.
- Real time PCR and bacterial culture for reportable/notifiable causes of ovine abortion were negative, including Salmonella spp, Chlamydia spp. and Brucella melitensis.
- It is important to Australian sheep export markets to be able to demonstrate continued freedom from enzootic abortion and exotic brucellosis and salmonellosis.
- Investigating abortion storms in sheep can provide this evidence and increases trading partner confidence in our claims of freedom from these significant diseases.
- Real time PCR and bacterial culture for Campylobacter fetus subspecies fetus returned a positive result.
- Histopathology revealed a necrotising placentitis associated with large numbers of bacteria: these changes were compatible with campylobacteriosis.
- Testing for other infectious causes of abortions, including Leptospirosis and Toxoplasmosis, was negative.
- Campylobacter infections can cause late abortions and weak or stillborn lambs. The bacteria survives in the digestive system of some sheep and cattle, and is shed onto pasture.
- Vaccination for Campylobacter is available in Australia.
- Please note that abortion and infertility cases may be due to zoonotic diseases. Ensure that you and the producers are observing hygiene precautions and appropriate PPE are worn including eye protection, a face mask and double gloves.
- Pregnant women should avoid handling aborted material where possible due to the potential risk of zoonoses.
In winter, be on the lookout for:
|Disease, typical history and clinical signs||Samples (additional to base set)|
Abortions in ewes
Read more on infertility and abortion in ewes.
Post-mortem - Ewe:
Post-mortem – Foetus:
Arthritis in lambs
Read more on arthritis in sheep.
Also examine lame stock for signs of myopathy, bone fractures, footrot and foot-and-mouth disease.
Footrot swab media is available from your DPIRD field veterinary officer.
Pregnancy toxaemia in ewes
Read more on pregnancy toxaemia in sheep.
Adult sheep 18 months to 5 years of age showing neurological signs are eligible for subsidy under the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) program. Speak to your DPIRD field veterinary officer about subsidised investigations.
Grass tetany in sheep and cattle
Magnesium-deficient cattle normally present with clinically consistent signs for TSE and may be suitable for the TSE exclusion subsidy. See the TSE webpage or contact your DPIRD field veterinary officer for details.
Read more on grass tetany.
Brain and spinal cord sections for TSE sampling
*TSE sampling requires the entire brain and brainstem fixed in formalin.
Include base samples and any clinical or gross lesions in submissions.
Private vet workshop to support animal disease surveillance in WA
Fifteen veterinarians participated in the private veterinary practitioner workshop held on 28 and 29 July 2023, coordinated by DPIRD Bunbury Field Veterinary Officer Dr Will Janson. These workshops are organised annually and are important in connecting private veterinarians working with livestock and DPIRD’s Animal Biosecurity and Welfare team.
Topics of discussion included veterinarian investigation process for an EAD exclusion, a national and global EAD update and an update on the eID Sheep Project. Four practical sessions were conducted in the new South Perth DDLS Laboratory building. These sessions covered avian sample collection, external carcass lesion identification, optimal sample size, sample collection sites for neurological disease and biosecure sample packaging and handling.
DPIRD policy officer Dr Simon Hollamby presented information on the WA Veterinary Reserve project. The WA EAD Veterinary Reserve will be a group of qualified WA registered veterinarians who make themselves available to rapidly assist the Department in responding to EAD outbreaks. Reserve members will be paid to complete a 45-hour training course over a 12-month period and then remain in the reserve for two years after the training. An invitation to sign up to the reserve will begin circulating soon.
A big thank you to all the attendees, practitioners who shared cases and presenters that that were able to join us for this workshop and the DPIRD staff involved in coordinating and organising the event. DPIRD is currently intending to reproduce this workshop in a regional location later this year for any vets that could not attend this one. Keep an eye on your inbox for more information or contact Dr Will Janson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for producers for the 2023 season
DPIRD has a new webpage with information for producers for the 2023 season, including seasonal issues, livestock management, crop management, land and water management and updates on the climate situation and outlook.
The webpage Season 2023: information for WA farmers provides more information.
Livestock disease investigations protect our markets
Australia’s ability to sell livestock and livestock products depends on evidence from our livestock disease surveillance and investigations to provide evidence Australia is free from many significant livestock diseases that affect trade.
Find out more about WA's animal health surveillance programs.
We welcome feedback. To provide comments or to subscribe to the monthly newsletter, email email@example.com.
To see previous issues of the WALDO – for veterinarians, please visit our archive page.