On the front foot for disease control

David Jarvie, from the Biosecurity Council, Lyndon Henning, from the Muchea Livestock Centre, and Ian Randles, of the PGA, at the Exercise Odysseus discussion.
David Jarvie, from the Biosecurity Council, Lyndon Henning, from the Muchea Livestock Centre, and Ian Randles, of the PGA, at the Exercise Odysseus discussion.

According to economic estimates, a severe national outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease could cost the livestock industry up to $52 billion over 10 years.

More than 60 livestock industries and government representatives met in Perth recently to determine how each industry sector would implement an emergency livestock standstill.

The scenario, called Exercise Odysseus, will be consistent across the exercise program and is based on an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, initially detected in Queensland.

WA acting chief veterinary officer Michelle Rodan said a national livestock standstill on animals susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease was the key weapon to control spread of the disease.

‘Limiting the spread of the disease will make it easier and faster to eradicate, and will reduce the cost to both government and industry,’ she said.

‘To do this successfully requires that industry and government have workable plans in place and that they understand their roles in implementing a standstill.’

Dr Rodan said Australia’s freedom from foot-and-mouth disease underpinned access to export markets for many of our agricultural products.

‘A large, multi-state outbreak could devastate our livestock industries, close major export markets for several years and cost up to $52 billion over 10 years, according to recent Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics estimates,’ she said.

Local producers and transporters would stop any livestock movements under the emergency scenario for an initial period of 72 hours.

Muchea Livestock Centre manager Lyndon Henning said the meetings would continue throughout the year as part of nationally co-ordinated program Exercise Odysseus.

‘It’s been very productive so far and we know our part in an emergency standstill.’