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Nepal foot and mouth disease training a trip of a lifetime

Vets attend FMD training in NepalNorth Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian, Ian Poe, has returned from foot and mouth disease (FMD) training in Nepal. The exercise was delivered by the European Commission for the Control of Foot and Mouth Disease to improve Australia’s capacity to prevent FMD and manage any outbreaks. The training is supported by the Australian Government and is run each year to provide vital training for Australian veterinarians.

As part of the exercise, Dr Poe received intensive training to recognise and sample animals for FMD, and visited Nepalese farms to investigate potential cases of infection. In doing so, he witnessed and managed real cases of FMD for the first time.

Dr Poe said, “Being an exotic disease I had only ever seen photos of the lesions and read about the disease in textbooks. It was very exciting to see one of the most talked about and feared exotic diseases.”

As a result of the practical experience gained, Dr Poe is now part of an important network of people that act as Australia’s eyes and ears in preventing FMD in this country.

Foot and mouth disease is considered one of the world’s most serious diseases of livestock, and Australia is in a fortunate position to be free of the disease, having not had a case since 1872. A small outbreak, controlled in 3 months has been estimated to cost $7.1 billion, while a large 12 month outbreak would cost $16 billion. Any outbreak would close Australia’s valuable export markets. Australia’s strict quarantine laws help protect us from FMD and other exotic diseases.

Testing a goat for FMD in NepalThe training allows Australian vets the opportunity to see the disease in the flesh, and gain vital skills at diagnosing, sampling and undertaking epidemiological investigations to identify potential sources of infection and spread of the disease. FMD causes blisters and ulcerations in the mouth and around the feet of animals, and cause significant production losses. Deaths can occur in young animals. Cloven hoofed animals are susceptible; this includes cattle, pigs sheep and goats.

“We hope it never happens, but through this program we have a network of people who are trained and know how to manage FMD outbreaks,” Dr Poe said.

The trip also highlighted the key FMD risks to Australia and reinforced the need for prevention.

“One of the biggest FMD risks to Australia is feeding meat products to pigs and for this reason it is illegal to feed pigs swill in Australia,” Dr Poe said.

Local producers are reminded that if they suspect any emergency animals disease, or see any unusual signs of disease in their stock they should contact their nearest North Coast Local Land Services district veterinarian on 1300 795 299, local private veterinarian or the emergency animal disease hotline on 1800 675 888. Dr Poe’s training was funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and coordinated in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the Nepalese Government.

Media contact:

Ian Poe, District Veterinarian Phone 0429 987 255

Photo captions:

The group of veterinarians who participated and one of their training exercises