The bluetongue virus (BTV) zone in Western Australia has been extended following detection of the virus in cattle on a Kimberley property as part of a surveillance program.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Animal Disease Surveillance Manager Marion Seymour said the national technical committee had amended the zone to include a large part of the Shire of Broome, including the Broome port.
As the virus is transmitted by a biting midge, which can be spread by the wind, a buffer of 100km from the boundary of the property of detection is put in place to ensure cattle in the BTV free zone remain free from the virus.
“The National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP) is an Australia-wide program that provides scientific evidence to trading partners on our surveillance capability and knowledge on the distribution of bluetongue virus in Australia,” Dr Seymour said.
“The program is supported by industry as it plays a vital role in enabling the export of sheep, cattle and goats to BTV-sensitive markets.”
It is important to note that the strains of bluetongue that exist in northern Australian have never caused clinical disease in Australian cattle.
However some international markets for live cattle, such as Israel, Turkey and China, still require Australian cattle to have been in a BTV-free zone for at least 60 days prior to export.
“This zone change may impact on how stations meet market requirements but they remain eligible to export, provided the requirements are met,” Dr Seymour said.
“The zone change will remain until two years of surveillance indicates the virus is no longer being transmitted within this area.”
Livestock from the rest of the state will continue to have the existing opportunities to trade into bluetongue virus sensitive markets based on the international credibility of the NAMP.
While it is recognised that cattle are currently held in the Broome shire prior to export to BTV sensitive markets, the Broome port is not currently the primary port for export to BTV-sensitive markets.
Dr Seymour said it was important to note that although bluetongue virus was present in northern Western Australia, the State is free of clinical bluetongue disease.
Source: DPIRD. More information including a link to the map of the bluetongue zone in Australia is available from the department website agric.wa.gov.au, search ‘NAMP’.