Information for Veterinary Practitioners


​​​​​​​​​​​​If you suspect the presence of an emergency animal disease call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline 

1800 675 888 - all hours - and leave a message.​


​​​​​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. 

If you think we can assist in investigating disease incidents, accessing disease surveillance training, or there is just something out of the ordinary, please give your regional veterinary officer a call during business hours Monday to Friday: 

South: 0447 329 991
​North: 0436 813 016  /  0419 258 127
North West: 0428 253 828​
Biosecurity Tasmania Statewide: 03 6165 3777  /  AnimalDisease.Enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au
 

Actions to ta​ke 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.

'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.

'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 d​iseases - 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 di​seases - 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 1995 and usually includes Government Veterinary Officers and Biosecurity Officers and Inspectors.

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.)
If you are asked to leave a message PLEASE DO SO including name, number and suspect issue.
You may find it helpful to use the form Record Of Animal Disease Event (ROADE) to collect your observations and thoughts before calling or while waiting for the call.

​The Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSV​ETPLAN) and the Australian Aquatic Veterinary Emergency Plan (AQUAVETPLAN) provide the nationally agreed response policies to various emergency animal diseases. Tasmania, like other States and Territories, also has first response plans that are consistent with AUSVETPLAN and AQUAVETPLAN for notifiable terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases.

Emergency Animal Disease: A field guide for Australian veterinarians (‘the blue book’)

The latest edition of the Emergency Animal Diseases: A field guide for Austr​​alian veterinarians was released in September 2019. This free, updated guide is now electronic (in both .doc and ‘pdf formats) and addresses high priority syndromes and diseases of domestic terrestrial animals and complements AUSVETPLAN.

The field guide is not a textbook but rather focusses on information veterinarians need when confronted with disease situations in the field. It is intended the guide will be a ‘living’ document – thus other syndromes and disease chapters will be added from time to time.​

 

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 other species. The program is managed by Animal Health Australia on behalf of Governments and industry, and coordinated by State and Territory animal health authorities. 

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.

Veterinary practitioners eligible for this program are registered, non-government veterinarians engaged in clinical veterinary medicine, including veterinary practitioners in wildlife parks.


​Please note - support for disease events involving wildlife is administered by the Natural and Cultural Heritage Division, DPIPWE, in the first instance contact Annie Philips: (03) 6165 4305  /  WildlifeVets@dpipwe.tas.gov.au
As an eligible veterinary practitioner, if you believe you’re dealing with a significant disease event, contact your regional Veterinary Officer to discuss whether the case fits the criteria for support. Once approval from a Senior Veterinary Officer has been obtained, further details will be provided via a Request for Investigation. You will need to provide a case report to the Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch, DPIPWE, after which the agreed payment will be made upon receipt of an invoice.
It is recommended that case reports are provided using the Record Of Animal Disease Event form. Contact details for approvals are listed below.
​​ 
More details of the program as applied in Tasmania can be found in NSDIP - Procedures for Private Veter​​inary Practitioners.

The NSDIP also subsidises the cost of laboratory analyses if submitted to the DPIPWE 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 owner for approved submissions associated with the NSDIP case. Reimbursement for laboratory costs may be available if the laboratory invoices the submitting veterinarian directly.

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 $700+GST is available to the veterinarian for approved domesticated animal species investigations. The subsidies are applied as follows:

  • Straight-forward single visit investigation without necropsy $250+GST 
  • Follow-up investigation without necropsy, additional $250+GST
  • Where a necropsy or very time consuming investigation is conducted $450+GST may be approved.
  • Laboratory cost reimbursement of up to $200+GST may be available if the laboratory invoices the submitting veterinarian directly. 

An eligible signific​​ant 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 genuine suspicion of a Notifiable Animal Disease, it is the veterinary practitioner's legal responsibility to notify their State or Territory animal health authority (as described above in 'Actio​​ns to take if veterinarians suspect notifiable diseases'.

​NSDIP Contacts

Livestock - Regional Veterinary Officers

North: Sue Martin 0419 258 127  /  Marianne Hevern: 0436 813 016​​​​

Northwest: Debbie Grull 0428 253 828​

South: Emma Watkins 0447 329 991

If your regional VO is not answering please contact:

Mary Lou Conway​: 03 6165 3258  /  0408 356 407  /  Marylou.Conway@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

​Wildlife Health Officer

Annie Philips: 03 6165 4305​  /  WildlifeVets@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

​Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious, increasing threat to human and animal health. The Australian Animal Sector National Antimicrobial Resistance Plan 2018 includes a focus on nationally consistent antibiotic prescribing guidelines.  Evidence-based Australian Veterinary Prescribing Guidelines have been published for an increasing range of species, including a recently published Ant​imicrobial prescribing guidelines for pigs​.  

The Australian Govern​​ment web page AMR and animal health in Australia ​provides detailed information for all sectors including veterinarians.

Substances not permitted for use on food-producing​ animals

These prohibited substances are listed on the Australian Pe​​sticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) website:
In addition to the prohibited substances listed on the APVMA website, Hormone Growth Promotants (HGPs) are not permitted for use in Tasmania. Also, a veterinary chemical product that contains one or more of the following substances may not be used on, or fed to, stock or horses in Tasmania (unless registered for use in that species):
 
a) resperine;
b) nitrofuran;
c) diethylstilbestrol;
d) any ester or salt of diethylstilbestrol;
e) chloramphenicol;
f) any salt or derivative of chloramphenicol;
g) clenbuterol and related beta-agonists;
h) any compound containing sulfonamide but not including the following compounds:
(i) sulfadimidine;
(ii) sulfadiazine;
(iii) sulfatroxazole;
(iv) sulfaquinoxaline.

There are a number of situations where certain veterinary chemicals may only be used on a single food species animal. They include unregistered products, off-label use contrary to a restraint statement on the label and agricultural chemical products. Products labelled only for oral or topical use may not be used for injection.
 
Additional information is available in the Code of Practice for the Supply and Use of ​Veterinary Chemical Products which is incorporated in Tasmanian legislation, or through Agvet Chemical Contacts.
 

Accreditation Program for Australian Veterinarians (APAV)

APAV is a national program managed by Animal Health Australia 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 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.

Animal Health Australia's ​Accreditation Program for Australian Veterinarians web page provides information to get you started.

Animal Health & Welfare News

​The Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch sends out an email newsletter to all registered veterinarians four times a year. If you are not receiving the newsletter and would like to, please email Emma.Watkins@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

In addition to the AHW News, email alerts relating to items of immediate interest to practitioners are sent out as required. If you feel you have something of general interest to colleagues please let us know. 

Training and Information Sessions for Private Practitioners

  • NTSE Surveillance Program sampling practice;

  • Animal Disease Investigation training;
Expressions of interest to: Emma Watkins 0447 329 991  Emma.Watkins@dpipwe.tas.gov.au
 

Livestock Health Monitoring

The Tasmanian Livestock Health Monitoring Report was a pilot project in 2018-'19 which confidentially gathered information on diseases and conditions in livestock in Tasmania, with some emphasis on sheep and southern Tasmania.

Information regarding diseases affecting sheep, cattle and goats was gathered from a voluntary network of producers and participating veterinarians. Monthly Livestock Health Monitoring Reports provided details of conditions seen in each month, with recommended prevention, treatment, biosecurity advice or measures. These could be a useful resource for veterinarians investigating disease in livestock.

A new project is to build on the achievements of the initial pilot.​

For more information about this project, or if you would like to participate in monitoring, please contact:
Bruce Jackson: 0407 872 520  /  rja69392@bigpond.net.au

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 TSE Freedom Assurance Project 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 four 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, ovine or caprine 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, sheep and goats.

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 practition​er 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-Mor​tem Report   (123Kb)

  ​NTSESP Owner Tax In​voice   (76Kb)  (Note: owner subsidy is available for Sheep and Cattle ONLY)

Incentives
Cattle SheepGoats
Incentive-fee for Vets (collection and documentation)$300 (+GST)$200 (+GST)$100 (+GST)
Owner$300 (+GST)$100 (+GST)​Not available

A clinical case for inclusion in the NTSESP must be:
  • Alive at ex​​amination - i.e., 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 - 3​0 months of age or more but less than nine years of age, refractory to any treatment administered, and displaying at least two progressive behavioural changes or neurological signs listed on the Post mortem and Clinical History form that are consistent with BSE.
    • Sheep and Goats - 18 mon​​ths of age or more but preferably less than 5 years, and displaying at least two progressive clinical signs compatible with scrapie as listed on the Post mortem and Clinical History form.
For specific clinical syndrome descriptions, please refer to the national Field Guidelines available on Animal Healt​​h Australia's Surveillanc​e of TSEs web page (link is just above footer of that page - ​'NTSESP Field Guidelines 2019-20').

Specimen submissions

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)
    Submit unfixed but chilled with the remaining brain fixed in 10% buffered formalin 
    and any other relevant diagnostic specimen that will support an alternative diagnosis.
  • Goats - specimens as for sheep. The National TSE surveillance program does NOT subsidise differential diagnoses testing in goats. Please discuss with your TSE coordinator to see whether support may be available through other significant disease investigation support.

Specimens may only be submitted to:
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.

Animal Healt​​h Australia's Surveillanc​e of TSEs web page has training information as well as the National Field Guidelines which describe the operational aspects of NTSESP.

A useful summary of brain removal and sampling techniques for veterinarians is available for download (© Western Australian Agriculture Authority (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development):

  B​rain Removal for Transmissible spo​​​​ngiform encephalopathy sampling​   (2Mb)

The checklist below is provided to assist in the preparation of samples for submission to the Animal Health Laboratory:

  Checklist for TSE surveillan​c​​e program - Cattle, Sheep and Goats   (178Kb)

Hands-on training in brain collection techniques can be arranged with Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch, contact:

State Coordinator, NTSEFAP​​
Animal Biosecurity & Welfare Branch
13 St Johns Ave​
New Town  Tas  7008
Phone: 0447 329 991  /  Email: Emma.Watkins@dpipwe.tas.gov.au​​

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 Anima​l Health Regulations 2016.

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

​​Other useful links and contacts​

Contact

Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch
13 St Johns Avenue
New Town TAS 7008
Phone: 03 6165 3777
Email: AnimalDisease.Enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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