Crook named Qld's chief vet - Queensland Country Life

QUEENSLAND’S new chief veterinary officer and general manager of animal biosecurity and welfare has hit the ground running.

Dr Allison Crook takes on the role as Queensland sees its third outbreak of Hendra Virus this year and bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) that stubbornly remains on the scene.

Dr Crook, who joined the Department of Primary Industries in 1997, is not phased.

“I’ll be progressing a range of initiatives, including enhancing our foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) preparedness, further encouraging the uptake of Hendra virus vaccination by horse owners and supporting the Agriculture Strategy,” she said.

Agriculture Minister John McVeigh, who welcomed Dr Crook’s appointment this week, pointed out her experience in managing emergency animal diseases.

“She has extensive experience in the management of emergency animal diseases, including the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001, the successful equine influenza response in 2007-8 and multiple Hendra virus incidents,” Mr McVeigh said.

From anthrax to bird flu – the dangers of lax security in disease-control labs - The Guardian

For the danger they posed, the lapses were appalling. They put lives at risk, that much is clear. But they were shocking, too, due to where they happened. The US government's high-security disease-control laboratories – which house samples of the most harmful germs in the world – cannot afford to screw up.

First came news of a single incident. Staff working on deadly bioterrorism agents at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta followed the wrong procedure to "inactivate" batches of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax. Though potentially still lethal, the bugs were sent to another CDC lab where staff were not equipped to handle live spores. A report into the lapse published last week revealed a worrying pattern of staff failures, and found that dozens were potentially exposed. The CDC doled out antibiotics and anthrax vaccine. Affected rooms were sterilised. They were lucky: no one got the disease. But that is hardly the point.

It was not an isolated event. As CDC investigators finalised their report into June's anthrax scare they unearthed a more alarming incident that had gone unreported. In March, lab staff sent samples of a fairly harmless strain of bird flu to scientists at the US Department of Agriculture. To the agricultural team's alarm, every chicken they infected with the virus died. It was only after 21 birds had succumbed that they discovered why: the CDC samples had been contaminated with a strain of highly lethal H5N1 bird flu. Natural outbreaks of the virus have killed hundreds of people in Asia.

After Lapses, CDC Admits a Lax Culture at Labs - New York Times

Continue reading the main story

ATLANTA — Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spent much of Wednesday completing a report that would let the public see, in embarrassing detail, how the sloppy handling of anthrax by scientists at its headquarters here had potentially exposed dozens of employees to the deadly bacteria.

But just as he was sitting down for a late-afternoon lunch at his Washington, D.C., office, an urgent call came in. There had been another accident, this one just as disturbing, if not more so — and no one in the agency’s top leadership had been informed about it until that Monday, though the C.D.C.’s lab had been told about it more than a month earlier.

C.D.C. workers had somehow shipped a dangerous strain of avian influenza to a poultry research lab run by the Department of Agriculture. Known as H5N1, the virus had killed more than half of the 650 people who had been infected with it since 2003.

“I was, just frankly, stunned and appalled,” Dr. Frieden said in an interview Saturday.

The recent revelations have created a crisis of faith in the federal agency, prompting calls for an independent body to investigate such episodes in the future, as well as for sweeping changes at the agency and to a sprawling web of research labs that has grown after the 2001 terror attacks led to an intensified focus on microbes that could be used as biological weapons.

Argentina Denies Animal Health Protocol Breaches - TheCattleSite

ARGENTINA – Argentina has hit out at US claims alleging animal health protocol breaches, accusing US ranchers of purposefully preventing beef imports.

This message was delivered by agriculture, livestock and fisheries minister Carlos Casamiquela, rejecting American Task Force Argentina (ATFA) and US Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) criticisms on Friday.

Citing European and Chinese trade links as proof of Argentina’s food safety, Mr Casamiquela said that Argentina’s livestock industry is in line with World Animal Health Organisation requirements.

He added that foot and mouth disease was now classed as ‘without vaccination’ in northern Patagonia and peste des petits ruminants and contagious pleurpneumonia had been eradicated.

TheCattleSite News Desk

NOAA Announces New Scale to Rate Algae Bloom | YottaFire

A new has scale to predict and rank algae growth has been announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The growth will be classified on a scale of 1 to 10 henceforth.

This year’s algae growth on Lake Erie might fall between 5 and 6 on the proposed scale. Lake Erie, one of the Five Great Lakes, is the shallowest and the smallest in the group. It also has the largest number of tributaries. It is an important water way, sewer treatment and a source of drinking water. Since the 1960s the lake has been having numerous problems including high levels of mercury in its fish and invasive plant species.

Every year during summer, the lake experiences algae bloom and it has become an issue of concern to environmentalists? Experts say that the algae deplete the water of oxygen leading to occurrence of dead zones where fish and other aquatic life cannot survive. The algae also force the government to spend more resources in treatment of drinking water.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Rick Stumpf said that the new classification will assist them understand the algae blooms in a better way.

IRA review underway - Stock & Land

UPDATED: FOUR months after a Senate report cast serious doubt on Australia’s Import Risk Analysis (IRA) process, an examination of the system is now underway.

The Department of Agriculture is undertaking the review to ensure “robust arrangements” are in place to minimise the risk of exotic pests and disease incursions in Australia.

In a statement, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the examination is an opportunity to discuss Australia’s IRA process, which helps identify and classify potential biosecurity risks, and leads to the development of policies and protocols to manage import risks.

Information will be gathered around the key areas of transparency and engagement during the IRA process; the use of external scientific and economic expertise; and the recognition of regional differences in the IRA process.

It follows the Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report into the risk assessments for Malaysian pineapples, Fijian ginger and New Zealand potatoes, released in March this year.

INDIA Government order to prevent the spread of EMS


All Shrimp Farming in India Will Temporarily Stop by
the End November 2013


In order to prevent and control the spread of early mortality syndrome (EMS) at shrimp farms and hatcheries in India, The Marine Products Export Development Authority in Panampilly Nagar, Kochi, India—after detailed discussions with scientific advisors and all stakeholders—has come to the conclusion that it is essential to take the following steps immediately.


1. Inspect and test all feeds, broodstock, nauplii, postlarvae and probiotics at hatcheries.


2. Inspect and test shrimp from farms and peeling sheds.


3. Inspect shrimp purchase, sale, transport and import documents at farms, hatcheries
and peeling sheds.


4. Confiscate and destroy shrimp when required at hatcheries farms and peeling sheds.


Chilean government mulling stricter rules to avoid Invermar-like cases in salmon industry | Undercurrent News

The Chilean government is considering to give more powers to the secretary of fishing affairs and aquaculture, particularly in sanitary matters, so the department can order early harvests or biomass destruction when affected by diseases.

According to reports by Estrategia, secretary Rafael Sunico would be leading a reform that will have a sector-wide impact, to impede more cases occurring similar to the recent controversy involving Invermar.

The Chilean Court of Appeals ruled against sanitary authority Sernapesca, which ordered a prematurely harvesting at Invermar’s farm in the region of Chiloe.

Sernapesca had issued an order for the company to harvest the farms, after an inspection in January found that six cages had tested positive for infectious salmon anemia.

The company appealed the order, as it said the injunction could reduce revenue by $17.7 million at a time when the group most badly needs to show it has sufficient profitability muscle.

The government wants to give explicit faculties to Sernapesca that cannot be contested in court.

State veterinarian helps fight pig virus - Appleton Post Crescent

MILWAUKEE – Shoppers have seen double-digit increases in bacon prices in the past year as a virus that causes deadly diarrhea in baby pigs sweeps through U.S. hog farms.

Wisconsin state veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw recently served on a federal task force charged with developing a plan to fight the disease known as porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED. Wisconsin has few hog farms compared to neighboring Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, and may have had only a handful of PED cases, based on the limited data collected thus far. But McGraw was chosen in part because he grew up on a dairy and hog farm in Dodgeville.

He spoke this week with The Associated Press about the task force; biosecurity, or efforts to prevent the spread of disease; and the challenges ahead for farmers and health officials.

Q: Can you talk briefly about what the federal government is doing to fight PED?

A: One thing the federal government did is issue an order on June 5 that makes PED and other swine coronaviruses reportable, which means farmers or veterinarians would have to report to the state or federal government if they have a confirmed case … They'll have to develop a herd management plan with their veterinarians. This will include things that they'll be watching for, biosecurity efforts to be placed in so they can try to control the virus and eliminate the virus.

Q: What might you typically see in a herd management plan?

A: They might want to discuss the biosecurity of visitors and vehicles entering the premises. So, who comes to your farm? What route do they take? Do they travel the same route as the trucks hauling pigs in and out or the feed trucks? Those kinds of things.

They would want to monitor employee biosecurity, so … do employees also have pigs at home? They'd want to ask those questions, make sure employees are maybe changing coveralls or boots, those kinds of things, as they go into the barn.

Q: The federal government recently gave conditional approval to the first vaccine licensed for this disease. How significant do you think that is?

A: I think it's pretty early to know yet. It is licensed. It is approved. We approved it to be distributed in Wisconsin; they also need the state vet of each state to approve shipment of that vaccine and distribution.

What we don't have yet is the actual studies on how well it works. It's preliminary, it's real early, and so there will be more data to come. Hopefully, it's very successful vaccine and helps prevent death loss.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge still ahead in tackling PED?

A: One, we still don't know how it got into this country. And two, we've not identified every route of transmission. In discussions with veterinarians, there have been outbreaks on farms that they really have no good way of how it got there.

Q: What lessons can dairy farmers and others with livestock learn from the pork industry's experience with this disease?

A: The scary thing about this disease is that it only affects swine and … it does not transmit through the air very well, and it spread to nearly 30 states and thousands of premises in less than a year. And the swine industry is one of our more bio-secure industries, meaning they do control movement, they're more careful about sharing equipment and trucks, those kinds of things. They don't commingle animals from different farms.

So, if this was a different virus that could affect cattle, sheep and goats, like foot and mouth disease, for example, how do we control that?

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Government mulls potato import in case prices spike

NEW DELHI: The government is exploring the possibility of importing potatoes in case there is a severe shortage. Sources said the state-owned cooperative major Nafed has been asked to see whether potatoes available in countries including China, Egypt, Ukraine and Russia are of good quality and fungus-free so that the food stuff can be imported easily. This is one of the contingency plans that the Centre is preparing to deal with an awkward situation in case the delayed and weak monsoon poses bigger problem. Meanwhile, refuting speculation that the exiting onion stock may end in the next two months, government officials said that there is "enough stock" to meet the future demand. "As such there is nothing in black and white how mush is in the stock. We have asked state governments to provide us the detailed stocks of onion in stores. We have not yet got the report," a government official said. Addressing state food and consumer affairs ministers on Friday, agriculture minister Radhamohan Singh said that Agrowatch, an private firm involved in agri-business sector, has been asked to study the available stocks of food items in the cold storages.


Subscribe to RSS - Government