Australian state to invest heavily against infectious livestock diseases

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Sydney, Aug 23 (IANS) Australia’s state of New South Wales (NSW) will invest more than 120 million Australian dollars (nearly $83 million) in biosecurity measures to help combat animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease.

The state government announced on Monday that the investment will deliver 65 million Australian dollars (nearly $45 million) for the development of mRNA synthetic vaccines for both the FMD and lumpy skin disease, Xinhua news agency reported.

It will also include 55.8 million Australian dollars (nearly $38 million) for a response workforce, disease surveillance and on-ground biosecurity risk mitigation and preparedness activities, such as controlling potential infected premises and incentivising farmers to beef up their biosecurity measures.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Paul Toole said current FMD vaccines are made using the virus itself, meaning if Australia wants to regain FMD-free status after an outbreak, some vaccinated animals still need to be destroyed .

“The development of a synthetic mRNA vaccine could be the key for Australia to apply for FMD-free status without having to destroy vaccinated animals.”

“We need to be prepared to fight and eradicate any exotic pest and disease that arrives on our shores,” said NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders.

“Our farmers deserve to have the confidence to know that if we have an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.”

The FMD, which attacks cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, goats and sheep, has been detected in the neighbouring Indonesia, raising concerns that the highly contagious animal disease may spread to Australia for the first time in more than 130 years.

Australia has taken biosecurity measures, including deploying more biosecurity officers at airports and mail centers, risk-profiling 100 per cent of passengers arriving from Indonesia, and using sanitation foot mats in all international airports, in efforts to fend off the FMD.

–IANS

int/khz/

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