Exotic disease outbreak protocol
The following information describes the immediate actions that need to be taken from the time that the presence of an exotic or an emergency disease is suspected, until the time that a veterinary officer from the state or territory department of agriculture or primary industries arrives to manage the situation.
Notification is the most important step and must be done first. The nearest state or territory government veterinary officer should be notified of the suspected exotic disease by phone from the outbreak property.
It is recommended that you store the office and out of hours contact phone numbers of the nearest government veterinary officers and Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) in your phone and keep a copy of these numbers in your vehicle. Leaving messages is not adequate. If these officers are not available, phone the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
The following information needs to be conveyed in the initial phone notification:
- the exotic disease or diseases suspected
- name of the owner and/or farm manager
- full address and telephone number of the property
- types and approximate numbers of animals on the property (including feral animals)
- which animals are affected
- date when the disease was first noticed
- approximate numbers of sick or dead animals
- brief description of clinical signs and gross lesions observed
- whether any susceptible animals have recently left or been brought onto the property.
Potentially infected animals must be secured in well fenced paddocks, yards, buildings, pens or cages. This may not be possible in the more extensive grazing areas of Australia.
Animals, potentially infected livestock products and fomites (things) should not be taken off the property. Where the suspected causal organism is potentially airborne and can be carried over considerable distances by wind (e.g. foot-and-mouth disease), animals should be moved away from farm boundaries.
No animal or product should leave the farm before the government veterinary officer arrives.
Departure from the property
A thorough personal disinfection should be undertaken at the farm gate. Wash and scrub waterproof outer protective clothing with disinfectant before removal. Place all protective clothing in receptacles and soak in disinfectant. Thoroughly wash hands, arms and face before changing into street clothing. When you arrive home, shower and arrange to launder the clothes that have been worn on the suspect property.
Veterinarians and others who have investigated a suspected exotic disease outbreak or have visited the property must not visit any other farms or have any contact with susceptible livestock species until specifically permitted to do so by the authorities.
For further information contact the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer in the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
Phone: 1800 900 090 or email OCVO.