Despite Australia's strict quarantine procedures, there is a risk that an exotic animal disease could be introduced. Our quality-assured diagnostic tests are critical to the success of surveillance programs and to the accurate diagnosis and control of outbreaks. We can respond rapidly to disease outbreaks of national impact.

The Challenge

Being prepared for an emergency animal disease outbreak

Scientist performing a bacteriological test in the Diagnostic Emergency Response Laboratory.

The diagnostic skills and knowledge of scientists at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) form an important component of Australia's preparedness to deal with an emergency animal disease outbreak.

Despite Australia's strict quarantine procedures, there is still a risk that an exotic (foreign) animal disease could be introduced into Australia.

The potential impacts, dependent on the disease, include illness in humans, domestic animals and wildlife and cost to the economy of billions of dollars through loss of trade, tourism and other costs associated with recovery from a disease outbreak. Our work protects the health of Australia's livestock, aquaculture species and wildlife to ensure the competitiveness our agriculture and trade.

Our Response

Diagnostic and disease response strategies

AAHL plays an integral role in investigating exotic and emergency disease incidents, allowing such diseases to be ruled out or to ensure rapid implementation of control strategies.

We also provide diagnostic testing services for surveillance programs such as the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP), the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) and the National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) Surveillance Program.

Our facility has also been crucial in identifying and characterising new diseases including Hendra Virus, Australian Bat Lyssavirus, Pilchard Herpes Virus and Abalone Herpes Virus.

Quality assured diagnostic tests are critical to the success of surveillance programs and to the accurate diagnosis and control of disease outbreaks.

AAHL's sensitive, accurate and rapid diagnostic tests are managed under a quality assurance system certified to the ISO/IEC 9001:2008 standard and accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) to the ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standard.

The facilities at AAHL are purpose built to ensure that we can fulfil our role in responding quickly and effectively to disease outbreaks, whilst still meeting our quality assurance standards.

In keeping with this, a state-of-the-art high throughput testing laboratory, the Diagnostic Emergency Response Laboratory (DERL), was opened in 2008.

DERL can be operated in two different modes – routine or outbreak – dependent on the circumstances.

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