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Region's vets focus on emergency disease

Lessons on foot and mouth disease from Nepal and the presentation of chlamydia in horses were among the topics covered at an emergency animal, zoonotic and notifiable disease seminar for veterinarians that began today in Albury.

More than 50 veterinarians from across southern NSW and northern Victoria have gathered for the seminar, which features presenters from across the state, along with a number of locals.

Organiser Shaun Slattery said the seminar had three major aims.

“We are aiming to assist private vets to be able to identify an emergency animal disease, inform them of who they need to notify if they suspect an outbreak and show them the steps to follow to get a sample to the relevant laboratory as quickly as possible,” he said.

“With many of these diseases, time is the crucial factor and a rapid response could be the difference between a very costly outbreak and one that is more manageable.”

Among the speakers at the seminar is Murray Local Land Services district veterinarian, Scott Ison, who recently spent a week in Nepal studying foot and mouth disease, and Jane Heller, from Charles Sturt University in Thurgoona.

Dr Ison will present the lessons he learned during an intensive visit to the south-east Asian country, where foot and mouth disease is a relatively common occurrence.

He describes the experience gained as invaluable.

“Australia hasn’t had an FMD outbreak since 1872, so as an Australian vet it was a real eye-opener,” he said.

“The course has been running for several years in both Nepal and Kenya, and the coordinators were able to fit a lot of theory and practical skills into one week to prepare us for an outbreak in Australia.

“This seminar is exactly the kind of forum to share my knowledge and experience with this particular disease.”

Other speakers included Bridget Doyle, from the Albury Public Health Unit, who presented a local snapshot of zoonoses in humans, and Ian Poe, Local Land Services vet from Kempsey, who spoke about his first-hand experiences investigating and handling Hendra cases in horses.

The seminar has been organised by NSW DPI, Murray Local Land Services and the Riverina branch of the Australian Veterinary Association, with funding from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.