Bluetongue rezoning opens Pilbara to Israel and Turkey markets

Beef Central, 21/12/2012

All Pilbara pastoralists can now access live cattle export markets worth on average an additional $47 million annually after rezoning of the Pilbara as free of bluetongue virus (BTV).

WA Department of Agriculture and Food livestock biosecurity director Michelle Rodan said while most countries which bought live cattle from Western Australia did not require animals from a BTV-free zone, access to high-value markets such as Israel and Turkey was dependent on regions being able to demonstrate that they were BTV-free.

“Israel and Turkey are the second and third largest live export markets for WA cattle after Indonesia,” Dr Rodan said.

“To regain access to these markets for the Pilbara, the department has conducted two years of surveillance monitoring and testing under the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program to show the Pilbara is BTV free.

“Bluetongue virus is spread by a biting midge and can only occur where the specific midge exists.

“The virus does not cause disease in cattle but some strains of BTV cause a serious disease in sheep.”

Dr Rodan said BTV had been present in some parts of the far north of Australia including parts of the Kimberley for 20 years but had only occurred sporadically in the Pilbara. 

“The last detection of BTV activity in the Pilbara was on two separate pastoral properties in the Ashburton and Roebourne shires in the spring of 2010,” she said.

“To provide assurance that no infected cattle enter BTV sensitive markets, all properties within 100 kilometres of the detection were included in the BTV restriction zone.

“Following two years of surveillance under the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program, Pilbara properties are now free to export cattle to Israel and Turkey.”

The department will continue to carry out surveillance in the Pilbara to meet national monitoring requirements. 

The surveillance program is jointly funded by industry and the department.



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