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CSIRO leads regional foot-and-mouth fight

by 5m Editor
8 March 2003, at 12:00am

AUSTRALIA - Australia's national animal disease laboratory will take a lead role in a new project to help control and eventually eradicate foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in South-East Asia.

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Following a meeting of participants at CSIRO Livestock Industries' Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong last week, the Laboratory was unanimously elected to coordinate the project and supply diagnostic reagents for FMD testing to the region.

Enhanced intelligence on the spread of the dreaded livestock disease will be achieved through making available affordable diagnostic tests and strengthening links between national laboratories, a new regional reference laboratory in Thailand and the World Reference Laboratory in the UK.

Dr John Crowther of the Joint Food and Agricultural Organisation/International Atomic Energy Agency - which is funding the project - says the components of diagnostic tests for FMD are too expensive to be extensively used by many countries in the region.

"The project aims to set up systems to supply cheaper diagnostic reagents to other countries in the region. AAHL will produce the reagents and supply them to the regional reference laboratory for FMD in Thailand, where they will be distributed to the participating countries in the region.

"This will help build greater levels of knowledge on the location and spread of all strains of the disease," he says.

AAHL Director Dr Martyn Jeggo says AAHL will make the first delivery of reagents in October this year.

"As part of the project, CSIRO will also assist laboratories in other countries to establish quality controls and a regional proficiency testing program," Dr Jeggo says.

Australia stands to benefit from its involvement in the project as improved knowledge on the FMD threat in the region should help to target quarantine resources to keep the disease out.

Distribution of Australian made reagents for use in the region will also be useful in validating AAHL's diagnostic capability for regional strains of FMD.

FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals like pigs, cattle, sheep, goats and deer.

The disease spreads rapidly via contact between animals and is carried by people, transport vehicles, or on the wind.

It has not occurred in Australia since 1872.

The other participating countries are Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

The following organisations were also represented at the meeting: Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer of Australia, Office International des Epizooties (World Animal Health Organisation), Japan International Cooperation Agency, Food and Agricultural Organisation and the International Livestock Research Institute.

Source: CISRO Australia - 6th March 2003
9 Copyright CSIRO Australia

5m Editor