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Johne’s Disease Risk Protocol

Animal Health Australia (AHA) coordinates the national Johne’s disease (JD) in cattle framework for the Australian beef and dairy industries, governments and veterinarians.

Risk assessment protocols

In the case of JD, risk can be regarded as the likelihood of introducing the disease into a previously uninfected herd or area, and the consequences of introducing JD for the newly infected herd or area.

The purpose of a risk assessment protocol is to:

  • facilitate trade and limit disease spread
    • provide protection from disease and, as far as possible, opportunities for infected herd owners to trade
    • create awareness of levels of risk (avoid misinformation)
    • enhance testing and management of the disease.
  • capture potential market benefits and position the Australian beef industry to respond to increasing international food safety requirements.

A risk assessment protocol represents a fundamental shift in the way things are done. It is commonly referred to as a ‘risk-based trading system’.

The responsibility lies with the producer who is introducing the cattle (i.e. user-based system) and the system relies on a much closer vendor–purchaser relationship.

Regardless of the regulatory environment, producers can use risk protocols to better inform their decisions. To varying degrees, producers already take into account some of the risks (e.g. not purchasing from certain areas). As knowledge increases along with use of the protocol, there are opportunities to shift to a more industry-based program, rather than the former current regulatory approach based on movement restrictions.

The degree of beef cattle contact with dairy cattle is one driver of the likelihood of beef cattle having JD.

Many beef cattle enterprises, with limited livestock introductions, will not have had contact.

How to develop a JD risk assessment protocol for beef cattle

  1. Determine your own situation and needs for stock introductions by asking relevant questions about your own herd
    • JD status
    • levels of disease protection for your herd, you and your customers require
    • types and numbers of cattle being introduced.
  2. Determine the risks associated with the vendor’s herd
    • obtain a completed National Cattle Health Declaration
    • determine the level of risk
    • compare buyer and seller risk scores
    • Introduce cattle, investigate further or source alternate stock.

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Page reviewed: October 31, 2016