For immediate release
How bird flu saved the Australian horse industry
Equine influenza was not even on the radar of high priority disease risks to Australia when the Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre funded development of a molecular diagnostic test for bird flu in 2004 at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory.
However, in a classic example of the serendipity that can happen in science, this diagnostic test proved essential to the fight against the equine influenza outbreak in 2007.
An independent economic assessment carried out by Agtrans Research has found that the assay was important in influencing the decision to contain the equine influenza outbreak with a view to eradication rather let the disease become endemic or try to contain it to New South Wales and Queensland only.
“It’s fortuitous that this diagnostic test could be applied to horse flu, as it’s highly unlikely that a similar test could have been developed in a timely manner once the outbreak had been detected. The use of the test supported the decision to try for eventual eradication,” said Dr Peter Chudleigh of Agtrans.
“The costs of eradication to the industry due to the control of horse movements was becoming extremely high, and a high degree of confidence was required to adhere to the eradication strategy. This confidence would not have been possible without the AB-CRC’s diagnostic test.”
The primary benefit from the diagnostic test was the speed with which infection could be detected, allowing rapid implementation of intervention strategies. The Agtrans report has calculated that the benefit of AB-CRC research through the use of the avian influenza diagnostic test was over $134 million, a cost-benefit ratio of over 450 to 1.
“It took 125 days to eradicate equine influenza, but using this diagnostic test enabled Australia to demonstrate freedom from the disease to the international community much earlier than would have otherwise been possible, at much reduced expense to the industry and freeing up horse movements,” said Dr Stephen Prowse, CEO of the AB-CRC, understandably proud of the Centre’s contribution.
The development and validation of the test involved CSIRO, Rural Industries R&D Corporation Chicken Meat Research Program, Australian Egg Corporation, and State and Commonwealth Agriculture Departments.
For more information about the Agtrans economic evaluation and access to the report visit http://www.abcrc.org.au/pages/AboutUs.aspx?MenuID=41
|Dr Stephen Prowse
CEO, Australian Biosecurity CRC
Phone: +61-(0)7 3346-8861
Mobile: +61-(0)419 371 134
|Dr Peter Chudleigh|
Agtrans Research and Consulting
Phone: (07) 3870 4047
|For assistance with arranging interviews:|
Communications Manager, Australian Biosecurity CRC
Mobile: +61-(0)423 782 198
The Australian Biosecurity CRC is one of 30 CRCs announced in 2002 by the Federal Government. The total resources of the Centre will be more than $60 million over 7 years. The Centre has major research nodes in Brisbane, Geelong and Perth, and partners in Bangkok (Thailand), New York (USA) and Winnipeg (Canada). For more information about the AB-CRC visit www.abcrc.org.au
||Established and supported under the Australian Commonwealth Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Programme|
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