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Wildlife Health Australia Workshop

26 Jul 2017

Wildlife, Emergency and Emerging Diseases: What Do You Do? A Training Course for Wildlife Disease Recognition and Diagnosis.

Australia’s geographic isolation provides a natural quarantine barrier to disease and Australia is fortunate to be free of most of the serious diseases that affect animals in other parts of the world. This favours our unique wildlife, environment, biodiversity, human health, domestic animal health, farm productivity, trade and economy. Biosecurity is a responsibility shared by governments, animal industries, veterinarians and the general public.

Australia’s nationalised, broad-ranging animal health biosecurity system is a complex amalgamation of pre-border (offshore), border and post border (onshore) activities carried out by all Australian governments in collaboration with a large number of industry and other stakeholder groups, represented by a number of peak bodies. Australian veterinarians working with wildlife form an important part of this system, providing a crucial source of wildlife health information and knowledge, as well as surveillance and response capacity for disease events involving wildlife.

Wildlife are one of the most likely sources of emerging and emergency disease therefore vigilance and preparedness are important for Australia’s biosecurity. This workshop aimed to improve the knowledge and skills of animal health personnel working with wildlife in recognising potential emerging, exotic and emergency animal diseases (EADs) and the reporting structure and obligations for suspected EAD investigation.

Rupert Woods (CEO WHA) outlined the objectives and laid the ground work for the very profession and experienced team to present. Kathy Gibson (Senior Manager Special Projects, Emergency Preparedness and Response Services, AHA) gave an overview of the role of private practitioners for EAD preparedness and response. Her presentation included information on national animal health preparedness and response arrangements and processes and expectations for reporting.

Mark Hawes (Veterinary Pathologist, Biosciences Research, DEDJTR and WHA State Co-ordinator, Victoria), spoke on the clinical findings and necropsy findings for some EADs relevant to wildlife and Australia. Finally Frank Wong (Research Team Leader, Diagnosis, Surveillance & Response Group, CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory) gave an overview of the role of AAHL in key wildlife diseases including new and emerging diseases of importance to Australia.

After lunch a series of scenario exercises in wildlife were workshopped by the participants. The scenarios were run as “Exercises Only” and did not relate to any current or immediate threats. The scenarios included, Classical Swine Fever, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and Pigeon Paramyxovirus, White nose syndrome in bats, and Rabies. The day finished with a session on the future for wildlife EAD response in Australia including the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA).

Participants seemed to engage and enjoy the day and gained 3 CVE points.

The workshop was generously supported by WHA who receive core funding from the Australian Government. We are very grateful to AHA, DEDJTR and CSIRO AAHL for making their senior people available to help. Silvia Ban (WHA) did a great job of supporting and organising the working group. Practitioners are reminded that they can apply for funding to assist.


Article extracted from Australian Veterinary Conservation Biology Newsletter, Winter 2017, Number 10, p.g 5



Pictured L-R: Frank Wong (Australian Animal Health Laboratory), Mark Hawes (VIC Department of Innovation Industry & Regional Development), Michael Banyard (Australian Veterinary Association), Kathy Gibson (Animal Health Australia) and Rupert Woods (Wildlife Health Australia).




Last reviewed: August 9, 2017

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