Announcing Zoonosis Awareness Week (3-7 April)

Jess Rummery, Manager Biosecurity & Extension, Northern Australia

Biosecurity is important for a number of reasons – we often talk about livestock health, disease outbreaks and profitability in the business – but it is also important to take some time to consider human health as well. Zoonotic disease is a real risk to agricultural workers and it can have long term consequences – for your physical and mental health and even your business.

There are approximately 150 known zoonotic diseases – that is diseases which can pass from animals to people and vice versa – and a number of these are endemic to Australia. Livestock producers and animal handlers should respect the potential for disease transmission and use sound preventive measures. Generally, it is easier to prevent disease (e.g. biosecurity practices, vaccination, etc) than treating for it or even having to live with it.

Wildlife can also serve as a reservoir for many diseases common to domesticated livestock and humans. Persons working with wildlife should also be aware of the potential for disease transmission from these animals.

Next week Livestock Biosecurity Network will launch our first quarterly zoonosis awareness week which will run from 3-7 April. Some of our staff, including myself, have been unfortunate enough to have caught one of these nasty diseases. This being the case, greater awareness in this area is something we feel is much needed and we are very passionate about. With that in mind, we plan to run these awareness weeks four times per year in the hope that we can shed light on this important topic and encourage the use of risk mitigation strategies to protect people in the industry.

Our next awareness week will coincide with World Zoonoses Day, which is observed on 6 July every year to raise awareness of zoonotic diseases and teach people to take effective action to prevent them.

During each awareness week we will be posting daily on our social media pages to help raise awareness of zoonotic disease prevention, symptoms, treatment and research. Please help us out by sharing our posts or sharing your story and knowledge using the hashtag #ZoonosisLBN and tagging @livestockbionet on Facebook and Twitter.

I also encourage you to take the time to talk to your friends, family and employees that live or work around livestock about zoonotic disease and its prevention. Information can help prevent the spread of these diseases and may even save someone’s life. Where possible, it is important to take precautions to reduce the risk. This can be through general knowledge of the risks, vaccination of livestock for known zoonotic diseases or vaccination for people in the industry (for example the Q-Fever vaccine).

Let’s all work together and get the information out there to the people that need it – the more people that get involved, the more people we can reach.

Follow us on social media and keep an eye on our posts next week for more information – Facebook and Twitter.