CATTLE producers have applauded the move to open a pathway to import live lumpy skin virus in order to give CSIRO all it needs to test and develop effective vaccines and diagnostics.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the importation would help Australia ensure the industry has the best possible vaccine protection for emergency use and a well-developed national diagnostic capacity for early detection.
He has asked the Inspector-General of Biosecurity to review the proposed import process and compliance controls.
"Lumpy skin disease is a serious disease of cattle and water buffalo, with potential for considerable animal welfare implications and economic losses," he said.
"It has never occurred in Australia but is an emerging threat as it continues to spread through Asia and is now present in Indonesia.
"Import of live virus is our best bet to prepare and protect Australia, and it is not a decision that we have taken lightly. Live virus would only be held at our world-leading Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness under strict containment."
Cattle Council of Australia president Markus Rathsmann said the decision showed there was no time to waste.
"Now the virus is in Indonesia it poses a significant threat to our Australian beef industry as it can spread via biting insects carried on monsoonal winds," he said.
"It's important we work towards the development of an mRNA vaccine, as it doesn't carry the risk of infection that comes with traditional vaccines.
"If this disease hits Australia, our most valuable international markets would close.
"Our best chance at keeping it out is to help our Indonesian neighbours bring their outbreak under control.
"The development of a new vaccine and diagnostic systems will benefit not only us, but cattle producers the world over."
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