Australia ramps up biosecurity with extra disease surveillance funding

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The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has welcomed the government’s announcement of increased funding for disease surveillance as part of a $137.8 million investment in biosecurity.
The Australian Veterinary Association has welcomed the government’s announcement of increased funding for disease surveillance as part of a $137.8 million investment in biosecurity. © NSW DPI

Australia’s government has increased funding for disease surveillance as part of a $137.8 million investment in biosecurity.

Moves to protect the country’s borders have stepped up since Australia successfully eradicated equine influenza 10 years ago, after it arrived via a Japanese stallion in quarantine.

As Australia’s agricultural sector looks to reach its goal of a $100 billion industry by 2030, investment in biosecurity is essential, said Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) president Dr Paula Parker.

“This is an asset that the government must protect. Every dollar spent on prevention and preparedness protects against potential billions in losses,” she said.

Parker said general disease surveillance was important to maintain Australia’s favourable animal health status and for the early detection of animal disease outbreaks.

“Emergency animal diseases are a significant threat to animal industries and we look forward to seeing greater use of private veterinary practitioners to support animal disease surveillance and investigation to protect animal industries and public health.

“We commend the government on investing in initiatives to prevent incursions of diseases, such as Foot-and-Mouth, by strengthening border surveillance technologies.

“The movement of animals and people around the world has never been so rapid. In a single day, a person can wake up on one side of the globe, and before the day is over, fall asleep on the other side.

“As towns and suburbs expand further into farming regions and bushland, we are living closer and closer to animals and impinging on their habitats. The risk of disease spread, both to and from animals, has never been greater, and we have seen this with emerging diseases such as Hendra and Lyssa viruses,” Parker said.

The AVA has also commended the surveillance initiative in northern Australia but has stressed the need for ongoing support from government veterinarians and diagnostic laboratories in supporting this work.

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