Procedure 4

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Adopt biosecurity strategies to prevent the introduction of infectious diseases

Guidelines for preventing the introduction of infectious diseases

The establishment of biosecurity procedures for introduced stock is an important practice to prevent the transfer of infectious diseases onto the farm.

The procedures that keep infectious diseases, pests and weeds off a property are often documented in a farm biosecurity plan.

There are two parts to a farm biosecurity plan:

  • Measures to reduce the risk of introducing an infectious disease, pest or weed onto the property.
  • Measures to reduce the risk of spreading an infectious disease, pest or weed within a property

The principles of quarantine and risk assessment need to be applied in the day-to-day operation of a farm.

Reduce the risk of introducing an infectious disease

Quarantine introduced stock to prevent transfer of infectious diseases

Assess the risk of introducing an infectious disease before bringing new animals on to the property. Use Tool 6.7 to assess the likely risk of introducing diseases, such as bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) and mucosal disease (bovine pestivirus, bovine viral diarrhoea virus or BVDV), into a herd.

Local veterinarians or state departments of primary industries and agriculture can provide advice on preventing the introduction of infectious diseases. It is worth the cost of a phone call to avoid introducing a serious disease into your herd. Tool 6.7 provides information to assist with assessing the disease status of cattle before being introduced into your disease-free herd.

Check the disease risk of all introduced cattle

In principle:

  • only purchase stock known to be free of infectious diseases
  • where appropriate, quarantine all introduced animals until you are sure they are disease-free.

Closed herds are easier to manage against common production and reproduction diseases

As an overall disease prevention strategy, implement a biosecurity plan for the property by:

  • ensuring the boundary and internal fences are stock-proof
  • quarantining all introduced cattle, with the length of quarantine dependant on the disease
  • using effective drenches to prevent the introduction of gastrointestinal parasites and fluke (monitor faecal worm egg count and fluke about 10 days post-drenching to ensure treatment has been effective)
  • restricting use of yards and handling facilities to your own stock
  • ensuring visiting vehicles remain in the house area.

Reduce the risk of spreading an infectious disease

A notifiable disease must be reported immediately to relevant authorities. If you suspect or can confirm that an animal is showing symptoms of a notifiable disease, it must be reported to a local vet or by telephoning the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Continually monitor your livestock for signs of disease. Tool 6.7 provides diagnostics to detect diseases, and is designed to help you diagnose disease status. It provides strategies that can help lessen the impact if a disease is found on your property.

Local veterinarians or state departments of primary industries and agriculture can provide advice on preventing the spread of diseases.

What to measure and when

Use Tool 6.7 to:

  • assess the risk of introducing infectious diseases into your herd, including BJD and mucosal disease
  • know the symptoms of common diseases and carefully check all cattle introduced onto the property, if there is a risk
  • take immediate action to prevent the disease spreading if your herd contracts an infectious disease
  • report a suspected a notifiable disease to your local vet or telephone the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Further information

  • Information on diseases, deficiencies and toxicities and strategies to prevent the disease or plant from being introduced onto your property is available on all state departments of primary industries and agriculture websites (see Tool 6.6).
  • Biosecurity information available on the MLA website.
  • Information on diseases, including BJD, on the Animal Health Australia website.
  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) maintains a national list and state and territory lists of notifiable animal diseases.