November 20, 2019
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner has had a second meeting with the African Swine Fever – Queensland Awareness and Action Forum to review the State’s preparedness should the deadly pig disease be detected in Australia.
“I first met with the forum members in October when I committed to continuing engagement on this emergent and critical biosecurity threat,” Mr Furner said.
“To date, we have provided Queensland veterinarians, pig owners, pig farm workers, feral pig hunters, industry and the general community with information about African Swine Fever, the risks of introduction and how they can help prevent it as part of our shared approach to preparedness.
“All pig owners, whether they are commercial farmers, hobby farmers, pet owners or those who come into contact with pigs, including feral pigs must also play their part.
“Pig owners must be registered as a biosecurity entity, which helps Biosecurity Queensland respond in the event of an emergency animal, pest or disease incident.”
Producers can check their contact and registration details are up-to-date at qld.gov.au/BiosecurityRegistration
Minister Furner said the State Government had scaled up its efforts including:
- Increased education and awareness across potential pathways of introduction such as food outlets that may give leftovers to pig owners, people buying pork products from overseas, and feral pig hunters who might see something unusual
- Enhancing laboratory diagnostic capacity
- Supporting industry to boost biosecurity measures
- Providing more than 4000 registered biosecurity entities in Queensland that keep at least one pig with information about prevention and preparedness.
Mr Furner said the greatest risk was from people illegally bringing pork or pork products into Australia from overseas and these being fed to or eaten by pigs.
“Recent detections of African Swine Fever virus fragments in meat confiscated at Australian airports and mail centres highlight the serious risk of entry through passenger movements and mail,” he said.
“I urge everyone to make sure they know what can and can’t be brought into Australia and comply with these requirements.
“While prevention is the key, we have to be ready in the event this disease does arrive.
“In its most severe form, up to 100 per cent of pigs may be affected and die. It’s estimated that by the end of 2019 up to a quarter of the world’s pigs may be lost as a result of this disease.
“No treatment or vaccine is available, so if African Swine Fever became established in Queensland it would be very difficult to eradicate.”
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The CSIRO is currently working to develop a vaccine to protect pigs from African Swine Fever, according to ABC News.
The Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong is working on the problem, but a vaccine could take at least five years to develop.
The scientists are also investigating whether species of ticks found in Australia can carry the disease.
Ticks have been blamed in Africa for spreading African Swine Fever.