CASE NOTES


THE ELIZABETH MACARTHUR AGRICULTURAL INSTITUTE, BIOSECURITY, BOFFINS AND BUGS

Dr Jef Hammond, Director Centre for Animal & Plant Biosecurity, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, Woodbridge Rd, Menangle NSW 2568

Paper presented at the Annual District Veterinarians Conference, Deniliquin, 2014
Posted Flock & Herd June 2015

INTRODUCTION

Biosecurity is the protection of the economy, environment and community from negative impacts associated with pests, diseases and weeds. The NSW Biosecurity Strategy 2013-2021 was launched in May 2013 in order to increase awareness of biosecurity issues and provide a framework for biosecurity management in NSW. The strategy is based on the principle of shared responsibility and aims to highlight why biosecurity is important for NSW and identifies four key goals and a number of outcomes and strategies for implementation to manage such risks effectively. The Strategy aims to address not only primary industries, but the broader biosecurity spectrum in terms of biodiversity and the natural environment, infrastructure and service industries as well as lifestyle, recreation, sport and social amenities. It also outlines how the NSW government will partner with other levels of government, industry and the community to identify and manage biosecurity risks. It is anticipated that this new strategy will bring about improvements to the existing biosecurity system to achieve more profitable and sustainable primary industries, including trade relationships to maintain healthy environments, both terrestrial and aquatic and to achieve improved social and economic outcomes for government and the broader community.

THE ELIZABETH MACARTHUR AGRICULTURAL INSTITUTE (EMAI)

The Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) is the NSW Department of Primary Industries Centre for Biosecurity and Centre of Excellence for Animal and Plant Health. First opened in 1990, EMAI plays a vital role in the protection of the State's $9 billion primary industries sector, the community and environment. The Institute continues to help Australia to achieve and maintain the disease-free status which provides considerable trade advantages in international markets through certification for freedom from specific diseases. The ~$60 million Centre for Biosecurity provides state of the art laboratories to enable operation at the highest international bio-containment standards required to meet the numerous and varied biosecurity challenges faced by Australia now and into the future. With over 160 staff members including senior scientists, postdoctoral scientists and students, EMAI continues to provide world class outputs in both the research and diagnosis of infectious diseases of terrestrial and aquatic animals and plants.

Research and Diagnostic Laboratories

The State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (SVDL) plays a vital role in providing the best available diagnostic capabilities in production animal pathology and is part of the State response to emergency animal disease events and pest incursions.

Virology: The Virology Laboratory is a front line facility for animal biosecurity, particularly during animal disease emergencies, and is routinely involved in the diagnosis and surveillance of viral diseases of animals and aquatic species, health certification and research.

Bacteriology and Parasitology: Undertake research into bacterial, protozoal and external parasites of farm animals, bees and aquatic species.

Plant Protection: Provides the Plant Health Diagnostic Service including surveillance and response to endemic and exotic plant pathogens and differentiation from closely related endemic organisms.

Emergency Response

The Diagnostic Laboratories underpin the Biosecurity NSW strategy with an 'Enabling capability' making available the best possible disease information as near to 'real time' as possible. We maintain the capacity to provide rapid diagnosis and emergency response and carry out specific tests in support of State and National disease surveillance. We are able to characterise pathogens, produce comprehensive reports, give expert advice on control strategies and undertake statutory testing in support of animal trade. We maintain unique reference collections of many key pathogens and supply diagnostic reagents and kits.

One Health

The emerging 'One Health' Framework recognises the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment. The work undertaken at EMAI clearly sits very comfortably within this framework and provides an enabling capability to the activities of NSW farming and agriculture and partner industries into the national and international marketplace.

DISCUSSION

In these times of increasing globalisation and associated movement of people, animals and their products it is clear that 'Biosecurity' should be a shared responsibility with each stakeholder group contributing to the successful protection of the economy, environment and community from negative impacts associated with pests, diseases and weeds. Central to the Biosecurity NSW strategy is the EMAI which provides a world class laboratory complex built to the latest Physical Containment (PC3) standards to manage risk, delivering "Disease Intelligence for Disease Control" through its state of the art laboratory and animal facilities, location of international experts and national and international collaborations and linkages. EMAI provides local, state, national and global disease advice through NSW DPI, the Commonwealth and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reporting systems. Through these networks we are also able to provide an early warning for any emerging or re-emerging disease that may be identified elsewhere in the world but that may pose a significant threat to Australia.

EMAI maintains a central resource of expertise in many areas of research and diagnostics for high impact existing and emerging diseases of plants and animals. However, most importantly it is critical that we continue to develop ways to work together to encourage all those involved in maintaining our privileged biosecurity status here in NSW and further afield in Australia, to rapidly identify and manage the ever present threat of biosecurity risks to our production systems, our economy and our healthy way of life.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The support of NSW Government DPI staff and in particular the staff at EMAI is gratefully acknowledged.

 


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