Information for Veterinary Practitioners

​​​​​
The purpose of this web page is to provide veterinary practitioners in Tasmania with ready access to information and resources for specific animal health programs. The page may be linked to national animal biosecurity or disease response sites from time to time.

Emergency Animal Disease Hotline 1800 675 888 - all hours

Actions to take if veterinarians suspect notifiable diseases

Notifiable diseases in Tasmania are those that are 'New' or 'Unknown' or published in lists (List A and List B diseases). The definitions and reporting obligations attached to each type of notifiable disease are summarised below and are set out in the Animal Health Act 1995.

A 'New' disease means a disease, other than a List A disease or List B disease, which the person concerned has reasonable grounds to believe or believes is not at that time known to occur in Tasmania. Any person including a veterinarian who knows or has reason to believe that a new disease is present within Tasmania must notify an inspector of that presence or possible presence as soon as possible.

An 'Unknown' disease means a disease whose type the person concerned does not recognise or is not certain of, or whose cause the person concerned does not recognise or is not certain of. The action to be taken in the event of an unknown disease is as follows:

(1) if the owner knows or has reason to believe that an unknown disease is causing an unusual level or manifestation of disease or number of deaths in that group of animals, the owner must -

    (a) as soon as possible -
      (i) engage a veterinary surgeon to investigate the disease and its cause; or

      (ii) notify an inspector of the presence or possible presence of an unknown disease; and

    (b) if possible, isolate that group of animals.
(2) If, after due investigation, a veterinary surgeon knows or has reason to believe a disease to be an unknown disease, the veterinary surgeon must notify an inspector of the presence or suspected presence of the unknown disease -
    (a) as soon as possible; and

    (b) in the quickest manner practicable.

List A and List B diseases include as a minimum, those diseases declared on the National list of notifiable animal diseases. Other diseases are included that represent specific risks to Tasmania. The lists apply to terrestrial and aquatic species. The lists are declared by the Minister and must be published at least annually. The reporting obligations pertaining to the List A and List B diseases are as follows:

List A diseases - any person who knows or suspects that an incidence of a List A disease has occurred in Tasmania must, as soon as possible and in the quickest manner practicable -

(a) notify an inspector of that incidence or possible incidence if the person knows or suspects that an inspector has not or may not have been notified of the incidence; and

(b) notify the owner of the infected animal or other thing of that incidence or possible incidence if -

    (i) the person knows or suspects that the owner does not or may not know of that incidence or possible incidence; and

    (ii) it is reasonable in the circumstances for the person to notify the owner.

List B diseases - Any person who knows or has reason to believe that an incidence of a List B disease has occurred in Tasmania must notify an inspector of that incidence as soon as possible if -

(a) the person knows or suspects that an inspector has not or may not have been notified of the incidence; and

(b) the Chief Veterinary Officer has not granted an exemption in respect of that incidence; and

(c) an inspector has not granted an exemption in respect of that incidence.


An inspector is the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), the Deputy CVO or an inspector appointed under the Animal Health Act and usually includes Government Veterinary Officers, Stock Officers and Quarantine Officers.

Submitting samples to the Mt Pleasant Animal Health Laboratory or any other laboratory without separate advice to an inspector is NOT equivalent to notifying an inspector of a suspicion of notifiable disease.

Report suspect notifiable disease by calling the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline 1800 675 888 - all hours. The hotline is monitored by a security firm who passes your call onto a government veterinarian who will call you back. You may find it helpful to use the Record Of Animal Disease Event (ROADE) form to collect your observations and thoughts while waiting for the call.

AUSVETPLAN is the nationally agreed response to various emergency animal diseases.

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy freedom assurance program (TSEFAP)

Australia is free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie. The TSEFAP is aimed at maintaining this status and ensuring there are measures in place that prevent TSE-infected tissues entering the food chain in the event that a TSE was detected in Australia. Animal Health Australia manages the TSEFAP on behalf of Governments and industry. See Animal Health Australia's web page for more information.

State and Territory animal health authorities provide local coordination of the various surveillance and inspection aspects of the program. In Tasmania TSEFAP is coordinated by the Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch, DPIPWE.

There are 4 operational components to the program. Private veterinary practitioners are mainly involved in the first component.

  • Surveillance (the NTSESP and any other required surveillance);
  • Ruminant feeding restrictions;
  • Imported animal surveillance (including zoo animals) and 'buy-back' schemes for imported cattle;
  • Research and development

National TSE Surveillance Program (NTSESP)

This sub-program supports Australia's current BSE status as 'negligible risk' for the purposes of international trade. This is by the collection of brain and spinal cord and other diagnostic specimens from a given number of bovine or ovine cases that are clinically consistent with the signs of BSE or scrapie. The program also contributes to the early detection system for TSE's in cattle and sheep.

Veterinary practitioners contribute to the NTSESP by identifying and sampling clinically consistent animals. Incentives are paid to both the owner of the animal and the practitioner on the submission of appropriate diagnostic material, clinical details and history.

A print friendly PDF version of the relevant forms are attached below for downloading.

  NTSESP Post-Mortem Form   (123Kb)

    Owner Tax Invoice   (76Kb)

Incentives


Cattle Sheep
Incentive-fee for Vets (collection and documentation)$300 (+GST)$200 (+GST)
Owner$300 (+GST)$100 (+GST)


 

A clinical case for inclusion in the NTSESP must be:

  • Alive at examination ie the animal must be examined while alive by the submitting veterinarian to independently establish the clinical state prior to euthanasia and sampling and for:
  • Cattle - 30 months of age or more but less than nine years of age; refractory to any treatment administered; and displaying progressive behavioural changes or neurological signs listed on the Post mortem and Clinical History form that are consistent with BSE.
  • Sheep - 18 months of age or more but preferably less than 5 years; and displaying progressive clinical signs compatible with scrapie as listed on the Post mortem and Clinical History form.
Please refer to the national Field Guidelines available on the Animal Health Australia's web page for specific clinical syndrome descriptions.


The specimens required for submission are:

  • Cattle - whole brain fixed in 10% buffered formalin and 2cm of cervical spinal cord and/or medulla caudal to the obex unfixed but chilled and any other relevant diagnostic specimen that will support an alternative diagnosis.
  • Sheep - (i) 2 - 3 cm length of unfixed cervical spinal cord and/or medulla caudal to the obex, and (ii) the dorsal (top) third of the cerebellum sampled via a coronal/horizontal approach (CAUTION - remove only just the top third of the cerebellum, more may damage TSE standard site two and compromise histological evaluation) unfixed but chilled and the remaining brain fixed in 10 % buffered formalin and any other relevant diagnostic specimen that will support an alternative diagnosis.
Specimens may only be submitted to the Mt Pleasant Animal Health Laboratory, 165 Westbury Road, Prospect, TAS 7250 (Tel 03 6777 2111).

Veterinarians are advised to contact Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch to check that a potential case meets the eligibility criteria and are still required to meet the program's contribution for Tasmania. They should also check that their submission has met sample and documentation quality criteria before invoicing the program. Incentives are not paid to the owner or veterinarian if the case is not eligible. This includes unsatisfactory samples and incomplete documentation.

The Animal Health Australia's NTSESP's web page has training information as well as the National Field Guidelines which describe the operational aspects of NTSESP. Hands-on training in brain collection techniques can be arranged with Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch - the coordinator's contacts are below.

Ruminant Feed Ban

Australia has an inclusive national ban on the feeding to all ruminants of all meals, including meat and bone meal (MBM), derived from all vertebrates, including fish and birds. These materials are referred to as 'Restricted Animal Materials' or RAM. The ban is enforced by regular inspections scheduled according to risk and take into account quality assurance schemes that operate within Australia's ruminant livestock industries. This ban acts as a fail-safe control measure to rule out the possibility that feeding will amplify the BSE agent in the unlikely event that it is introduced to Australia.

In Tasmania the specific controls are contained in the Animal Health Regulations 2006.

The Ruminant Feed Ban page on the Animal Health Australia website has further information.

Contact: State Coordinator, NTSEFAP
State Coordinator, NTSEFAP
Animal Biosecurity & Welfare Branch
GPO Box 44
Hobart   Tas   7001
Phone: 03 6777 2135 or 03 6165 3263
Fax: 03 6278 1875

National Significant Disease Investigation Program (NSDIP)

The NSDI Program subsidises veterinary practitioners who investigate and report on outbreaks of significant disease incidents in livestock and wildlife. The program is managed by Animal Health Australia on behalf of Governments and industry, and coordinated by State and Territory animal health authorities. See Animal Health Australia's web page for more information.

Veterinary practitioners play a key role in general surveillance in Australia, providing expertise for evaluating, clinically investigating and reporting outbreaks of significant disease in animals. However, full investigations are often limited by competing priorities and commercial realities such as the low economic value of individual animals relative to the cost of veterinary services and competing sources of income within a veterinary practice.

Eligible veterinary practitioners are registered, non-government veterinarians engaged in clinical veterinary medicine, including veterinary practitioners in wildlife parks.

The practitioner must obtain approval from a Senior Veterinary Officer (livestock) or the Primary Wildlife Coordinator (wildlife) for an individual case and provide a case report of the investigation to the Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch, DPIPWE to be eligible for the NSDIP subsidies. It is recommended that case reports are provided using the Record Of Animal Disease Event (ROADE) form. Contact details for approvals are listed below. More details of the program as applied in Tasmania can be found in the Procedures for Veterinary Practitioners.

The NSDI Program also subsidises the cost of laboratory analyses if submitted to the State animal health laboratory (Mt Pleasant Animal Health Laboratory, 165 Westbury Road, Prospect, TAS 7250 (Tel 03 67772111)). In Tasmania, the laboratory costs directly associated with NSDIP approved investigations are usually paid for directly by DPIPWE and there are no laboratory costs to the producer for approved submissions associated with the NSDIP case*.

Cases where necropsy is conducted at the Mt Pleasant Animal Health Laboratory are now eligible for inclusion in the NSDIP.  In these cases, the practitioner provides case history and any additional information required by the approving officer; the owner will be charged for the necropsy and the program will cover laboratory testing associated with the necropsy and any other approved follow-ups.

Subsidies:

A maximum of $650+GST is available to the veterinarian for approved investigations. The subsidies are applied as follows:

  • Straight-forward single visit investigation without necropsy $225 + GST 
  • Follow-up investigation without necropsy, additional $225 + GST
  • Where a necropsy or very time consuming investigation is conducted the maximum amount up to $450+GST may be approved.
  • *Laboratory costs up to $200.00 + GST if the laboratory invoices the submitter veterinarian directly.

An eligible significant disease event is:

  • atypical morbidity, mortality and/or rate of disease spread above the expected baseline;
  • clinical signs consistent with an exotic disease without a clear alternative diagnosis;
  • incidents where an initial investigation fails to establish a diagnosis however findings suggest the potential for significant impacts to trade or market access, farm productivity, public health, or wildlife biodiversity or conservation.

Important: Where there is a genuine suspicion of a NOTIFIABLE ANIMAL DISEASE, it is the veterinary practitioner's legal responsibility to notify their state or territory animal health authority. Actions to take if veterinarians suspect notifiable diseases

NSDIP Contacts:


 

North

Bruce Jackson
Bruce.Jackson@dpipwe.tas.gov.au
Phone 03 6777 2115, mobile 0407 872 520

South (and alternative wildlife contact)

Mary Lou Conway
Marylou.Conway@dpipwe.tas.gov.au
Phone 03 6165 3258​, mobile 0408 356 407

Primary Wildlife Coordinator (wildlife cases)

Sue Martin
Sue.Martin@dpipwe.tas.gov.au
Phone 03 6777 2155, mobile 0419 258 127

Accreditation program for Australian Veterinarians (APAV)

APAV is the national program designed to integrate private veterinary practitioners into the national animal health system to support the international standing of Australia's animal health service capability. The program is managed by Animal Health Australia.

The program aims to have an internationally recognised process for accrediting non-government veterinarians for involvement in government and industry animal disease programs.

The accreditation process involves enrolment and completion of the initial on-line APAV training, payment of a fee and approval by the Chief Veterinary Officer for you to participate in the program. You should read the APAV Handbook before embarking on the process to ensure you qualify and understand the responsibilities of a veterinarian accredited for the program.

The Animal Health Australia APAV web page provides the information to get you started.

Training and Information Sessions for Private Practitioners

NTSE Surveillance Program sampling practice - Expressions of interest to Rowena Bell (03 6777 2135).

Veterinary Emergency Response Team Tasmania (VERTT) - see Letter of introduction to VERTT and Expressions of interest form for volunteers

          

Other useful links and contacts

        

Contact

Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3263
Fax: 03 6278 1875
Email: MaryLou.Conway@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

Rowena Bell
Email: Rowena.Bell@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

Back Home