Organisations from across agricultural, processing, veterinary and public health industries are calling for governments to protect residents from the risk of Q fever infection.
NSW Farmers’ Association president Derek Schoen said it is time for State and Federal Governments to stand up for rural health and take Q fever seriously.
“Rural and regional ministers needed to pay attention to the health risks in their electorates, particularly for people working with or around livestock,” Mr Schoen said.
“Farmers and rural residents are frustrated that their exposure to Q fever is overlooked by city-focused health policy. Ministers have promised watching briefs on Q fever, but the time has come to take action.
“We are asking for the Q fever vaccine to be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme so that communities are better protected from the risk of disease.”
Mr Schoen said that since 2011, Q fever notifications in NSW have doubled, but access to testing and vaccination remains difficult for rural and remote residents.
“Getting tested and vaccinated means two visits to a qualified doctor. For many farmers, this means two long round-trips and too much time away from the farm. The combined cost of testing and vaccination can be over $400.
“NSW Farmers is calling for free testing and vaccination clinics for those most at risk of contracting Q fever. We would like to see an awareness campaign and better training for rural GPs to ensure they can diagnose and treat Q fever,” Mr Schoen said.
Mr Schoen said that the issue is not confined to livestock industries; increasingly, Q fever infections are seen in suburban residents working with domestic cats and dogs.
“Q fever is the most important zoonotic disease in Australia and notifications are rising.
“We are lucky to have a vaccine on the market, but we’re concerned about the impacts on the public health system if Q fever risk isn’t addressed by governments,” Mr Schoen said.
Source: NSW Farmers