Farmers are best placed to quickly identify an exotic or endemic disease, plants or pests. It’s your land, your animals, and you work there every day.
Many on-farm biosecurity practices are free or inexpensive to implement. These practices can mean the difference between a productive and disease-free enterprise, or the introduction of diseases likes Ovine Johne’s disease, footrot, Bovine Johne’s disease or multi-resistant worms in sheep.
Prevention is always the best approach. But should you suspect anything is amiss, who are you going to call?
I presented at a farm biosecurity workshop recently and all the participants went away with two new numbers in their phone – the Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Hotline and the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline. These numbers are like ‘Triple 0’ for our industries.
The EAD Hotline is manned 24 hours a day, and is a vital part of your toolkit to manage biosecurity on farm. Reporting a suspected EAD or unusual symptoms in your livestock can be done in several ways: in NSW you can phone your Local Land Services vet, Department of Primary Industries vet or a private vet. If it is out of business hours, or you don’t have those numbers, phone the EAD Hotline.
The EAD hotline is also utilised by vets needing to get a sample to a lab out of hours for issues such as anthrax exclusions, Hendra virus or Australian Bat Lyssavirus due to their public health implications.
But when should you call?
If you notice unusual clinical signs of disease in your livestock such as lameness, sudden deaths, diarrhoea, salivation or nasal discharge you should call a vet or the EAD hotline.
It’s worth noting that the signs can be vague and subtle, or spectacular. It’s not up to you, the livestock producer, to decide if you have an exotic disease in your herd or ﬂock, but it is your responsibility to notify someone quickly if you spot something unusual.
Similarly any unusual plant pest should be reported immediately to the relevant state or territory agriculture agency through the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline.
Early reporting increases the chance of effective control and eradication. Early recognition of a serious or exotic animal disease is one of the most important factors influencing the chance of controlling the disease and reducing its economic and social impact on the whole community.
By remaining vigilant and reporting as soon as you suspect an emergency animal disease, you can play a vital role in protecting livestock industries and preventing disease spread to animals or potential spread to humans.
Now is the time to put these numbers in your phone:
The Emergency Animal Diseases (EAD) Hotline is 1800 675 888
The Exotic Plant Pest Hotline is 1800 084 881
By: Rachel Gordon, Livestock Biosecurity Network
Featured Image: Rachel Gordon
This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.