World experts are gathered in Victoria this week to share predictions and insights on infectious animal diseases in the Asia Pacific as CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, hosts expert network meetings of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE).
Co-hosted by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the meetings are bringing together animal disease policy makers with more than 50 leading international researchers in avian diseases and African swine fever at CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong.
ACDP Director Trevor Drew said the discussions are crucial ahead of an expected peak in avian influenza cases later this year.
“While Australia is currently free of highly pathogenic avian influenza and African swine fever, both pose significant risks to our poultry and pig industries respectively,” Professor Drew said.
“By collaborating and sharing knowledge on these and other emerging pathogens with our neighbours, we can help improve the region’s preparedness against emerging infectious diseases and reduce the risk on our own shores,” he said.
The meetings are also being attended by the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Mark Schipp, who said Australia is proud to be hosting these network meetings for the first time.
“Transboundary animal diseases such as African swine fever and avian influenza know no borders. Along with strong national surveillance, biosecurity and preparedness measures, international collaboration is essential in preventing the emergence and spread of these diseases, and sharing global expertise,” Dr Schipp said.
“Over this five-day event, international experts from Asia and the Pacific will meet in person to share scientific information and discuss new diagnostic and vaccine technology around African swine fever and avian diseases. Progress in these fields will be essential to the regional control and prevention of these diseases," he said.
Hirofumi Kugita, Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific at the World Organisation for Animal Health, said the organisation is committed to improving global animal health and welfare.
“The World Organisation for Animal Health works closely with members and partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization to prevent, detect, control and eliminate health threats at the human-animal-plant environment interface,” Dr Kugita said.
“Early detection and reporting of disease is one of the key things that helps all countries be better prepared to respond to disease threats.
"WOAH is committed to supporting members through regional networks like these, as well as through programmes to contribute to the development of veterinary services capacity and capability in the region.
"This also entails improving communication and trust with stakeholders and governments to support WOAH members in reporting disease and implementing our international standards,” he said.