Monday, June 18, 2012

Improving FMD Preparedness in Australia

FMD is of enormous importance to Australia, with a need to ensure it is not allowed to enter Australia, and to be thoroughly prepared if it ever does reach Australia [ I hope not!].  While we do not have the disease, we have relatively secure access to overseas markets for animal products.  That would change instantly if the disease was detected in Australia, with import countries likely to "shut the gate" and not allow entry of products.

With the assistance of industry and key stakeholders, DAFF has developed a national policy for vaccination against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

Assistant Secretary for Animal Health Policy, Bob Biddle said rather than considering vaccination as a ‘measure of last resort’ in controlling an outbreak, Australia will now consider the potential role of vaccination as part of the response strategy as soon as any incursion of FMD is detected.

“Experience overseas and disease modelling studies carried out in Australia show that, in some circumstances, early vaccination is essential to effective disease control,” Mr Biddle said. "The Australian Government and all states and territories recently endorsed the national policy on the use of vaccination during a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak." “The update better aligns Australia’s FMD vaccination policy with advancing vaccine technologies, community perspectives and international standards and practices.”

With the new policy in place, an FMD Vaccination Expert Advisory Group is now developing detailed guidelines indentifying the circumstances under which vaccination could be a useful strategy, and the best strategy to use for different outbreak scenarios.

The new policy acknowledges the need to maintain flexibility so that decision-makers can consider the potential role of vaccination appropriate for each specific outbreak scenario.

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