New Swiss lab test is slashing current footrot wait times

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The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development senior laboratory scientist Dr Nicky Buller and laboratory technician Jingjing Zhang add DNA to reagent tubes as part of the new footrot test.
Camera IconThe Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development senior laboratory scientist Dr Nicky Buller and laboratory technician Jingjing Zhang add DNA to reagent tubes as part of the new footrot test. Credit: Supplied/DPIRD

The State’s leading veterinarians are using Swiss-developed laboratory testing to slash the time taken to determine if livestock are infected by a severe disease.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has been using the new laboratory test for virulent footrot since October in an effort to improve early detection.

Virulent footrot is an infectious livestock disease that causes lameness and productivity loss in sheep and goats.

Developed in Switzerland and tested by DPIRD researchers under WA conditions, the test improves the detection of virulent footrot cases and provides results more rapidly by eliminating the need to grow the bacteria prior to further tests.

DPIRD veterinary officer Jenny Cotter said about 18 cases had been detected since testing started.

“The new test has reduced the time taken to return the results to the farmer by two-thirds — on average from 15 days to five days,” she said.

“Early detection of footrot on a property helps to stop spread to other properties.”

Dr Cotter said the department did regular inspections for virulent footrot at five abattoirs across the State.

“This surveillance is important as often producers are not aware the disease is present on their property,” she said. “Once virulent footrot is confirmed, department inspectors begin working with the affected producers to put footrot management plans in place on their properties.”

Dr Cotter urged producers who noticed lameness or hoof overgrowth in their sheep to report suspicion of the disease to their local department biosecurity officer or a veterinarian.

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