Webinars detail FMD risks

Be prepared: Agriculture Victoria is hosting webinars to discuss preparedness for biosecurity risks such as foot and mouth disease. Photo by Daneka Hill

More than 400 people have taken part in the first of two webinars organised to discuss preparedness for biosecurity risks, such as foot and mouth disease.

Participants asked more than 50 questions of Victoria’s chief vet Dr Graeme Cook and veterinary officers Dr Megan Scott and Dr Jeff Cave, who fronted the session held on Monday, August 1.

Defending a potential FMD detection is a number one priority for Agriculture Victoria and a large volume of work is under way.

That work includes awareness-raising activities, preparedness exercises under the emergency management arrangements, scenario planning and staff carrying out surveillance and testing of suspect cases on the ground.

The Victorian Government has announced the establishment of an Emergency Animal Disease Taskforce to start planning for a rapid response if an outbreak was to occur in the state.

The plan will focus on bolstering the workforce of Agriculture Victoria to manage the potential social, economic and environmental threats of FMD.

The taskforce will be co-chaired by Agriculture Victoria chief executive Matt Lowe and the Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, in line with the State Emergency Management Plan, taking advice from Dr Cooke.

Australia is free from the disease and any outbreak introduced to the country is estimated to have an $80 billion impact on agriculture.

“Victoria has a preparedness and response plan ready that has been developed closely with industry,” Dr Cooke said.

“Good biosecurity practices are paramount for protecting our economy, environment and community from the negative impacts of pests and diseases.”

Dr Scott reminded everyone with livestock to make sure they had a Property Identification Code that was up-to-date and to review biosecurity plans.

The first one-hour webinar was held on Monday, August 1, and the second is scheduled for Thursday, August 4, at 7pm.

People can register for the second webinar at agriculture.vic.gov.au/events

FMD is a notifiable exotic disease and any suspected or confirmed cases must be reported to Agriculture Victoria on the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888 or contact your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria animal health and welfare staff.

Details about foot and mouth disease, including signs of symptoms, can be found at agriculture.vic.gov.au/fmd