News

Bluetongue zone to remain around Echuca for another month

Beef Central, 02/11/2017

Charles Milne

BLUETONGUE virus testing of cattle herds around Echuca has been completed, but maintenance of a temporary 100km zone around the area will be extended for another month while results are confirmed.

Agriculture Victoria said last week it had successfully completed surveillance and sampling activities in cattle herds near Echuca in the temporary bluetongue virus zone in northern Victoria.

However, as not all of the preliminary test results from the surveillance are negative for BTV, there is a need to undertake confirmatory testing, Agriculture Victoria said. Completion of the testing of all 2,500 samples will take place over the next few weeks.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Charles Milne said to allow time for the laboratory analysis and other investigations to be completed, and to consider the implications of the findings, the national Animal Health Committee on Friday endorsed extending the duration of the temporary 100 km bluetongue virus zone in northern Victoria for a further 30 days to December 13 2017.

Dr Milne said completion of the surveillance and sampling activities in such a timely manner couldn’t have been achieved without the outstanding support and co-operation of local cattle producers.

Surveillance activities included taking blood samples from 2500 cattle in over 100 mobs, with the testing of these samples to inform the longer term bluetongue virus status of the area.

“This marks the end of this initial phase and Agriculture Victoria now awaits the full results of the laboratory analysis of the samples.

“The zone was initially implemented on 13 October 2017, in response to the detection of past exposure to the virus in several cattle located on a property near Lockington,” Dr Milne said.

The National Arbovirus Monitoring Program Steering Committee, which includes government and national industry representatives, has been briefed on extending the duration of the zone.

“Both the zone and the surveillance activities are essential for providing assurance to our international trading partners, and to support our valuable livestock export industry,” Dr Milne said.

“Cattle and other livestock species situated within the 100 km radius zone won’t comply with import conditions of countries requiring assurance of area freedom from bluetongue virus.”

Dr Milne said there are no changes to conditions for moving livestock from this zone to other parts of Victoria, or elsewhere in Australia. The Australian Government is keeping trading partners fully informed about the issue.

There is no risk to humans from bluetongue virus, nor is there any food safety issue associated with livestock products (meat or milk).

Read more about bluetongue virus and the temporary zone.

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