WA Livestock Disease Outlook - for vets

Key points when inspecting sheep and goats imported into WA for quarantine release from footrot

Veterinarians who undertake inspections of sheep and goats for the purpose of release from quarantine for footrot in sheep and goats imported into WA need to be aware of the following:

Stuart’s media is essential

  • Ensure Stuart’s media is in your kit before attending an inspection as you may have to collect a sample.
  • Stuart’s media is essential because Dichelobacter nodosus, the agent of footrot, does not survive in air for any length of time. Stuart’s media provides a specific nutrient environment that allows survival of the bacteria while in-transit to the DPIRD Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DDLS).
  • You can obtain Stuart’s media by contacting your local DPIRD office or DPIRD Field Veterinary Officer prior to the inspection. The media is free of charge.

Legal documents

Release inspection documents are legal documents. Veterinarians who sign the documents are verifying, to the best of their knowledge, that their judgement is correct. The signing of inspection documents for the purpose of release from quarantine indicates that you have reached your conclusion by following all reasonable steps to conclude that footrot is not present.

Correct method of examination

The correct method of examination must include examining every foot of every sheep that you are verifying to be free of footrot. It is also a requirement to sample any foot presenting with a suspect lesion by scraping into Stuart’s media and submitting the sample to DDLS.

Biology and presentation of footrot

Veterinarians working with footrot must familiarise themselves with the biology and presentation of footrot by visiting DPIRD’s webpages on managing virulent and benign footrot at agric.wa.gov.au.

Definition of footrot in WA differs from other states

The definition of virulent footrot in WA differs from that in other states. In WA, the basis of diagnosis is testing with the gelatin gel test. The diagnosis depends on laboratory detection of D. nodosus in material taken from lesions from flocks suspected of having virulent footrot. Virulent footrot is confirmed when an S (stable) strain of D. nodosus is identified. Cases where only unstable (U) strains are identified are regarded as benign footrot. In other states, the diagnosis of virulent versus benign is based on the percentage of lame sheep and lesion score across a flock with no testing used to confirm the diagnosis. Due to the difference in definitions, sheep carrying footrot may reach WA. Consequently the work done by private vets in examining imported sheep and goats for release from quarantine is important to keep virulent strains of footrot out of WA. 

More information

For more information about footrot, contact Jenny Cotter, on +61 (0)8 9892 8421 or email Jennifer.cotter@dpird.wa.gov.au.

Private vets have their say on WALDO

Responses to last year’s survey of WALDO indicated that WALDO was considered a useful resource by WA private vets. Most respondents agreed that it had increased the likelihood of discussing a case with a Department vet and had improved the range and quality of samples taken for disease investigations. More than 80% of respondents wanted to see more maps and charts of common syndromes and livestock diseases in WA. This and other suggestions will be incorporated in the issues to come in 2018.

Thank you for participating in the survey and congratulations to the winners of the postmortem kits, Kate Clayton, Kojonup Vet, and Sandra Goddard, Lowden Mobile Veterinary Service. Please continue to provide feedback and information about disease occurrences in your area.

Previous issues

Previous issues of WALDO - for vets and WALDO - for producers are available on the DPIRD website on the newsletter archive page or by searching 'WA livestock disease outlook - for vets'.


We welcome feedback. To provide comments or to subscribe, email waldo@dpird.wa.gov.au