Currently, the Australian salmonid, tuna and pilchard fisheries, and the various Australian governments do not have an agreed approach for the response to an outbreak of VHS. The production of a disease strategy manual will provide the information upon which an informed decision can be made and will also document the agreed response to an outbreak of VHS. The existence of an agreed plan will assist in the rapid response to an outbreak of VHS and as with all disease incidents, the faster the response plan is initiated, the more likely the disease will be contained and the lower the economic impact on the industry.
This approach has been demonstrated to be effective in that a range of Disease Strategy Manuals for diseases of terrestrial animals has been available under AUSVETPLAN for the past twenty years and in that time, these manuals have been used in the response to disease incidents and proved to be highly successful.
In the May 2000 Budget, the Federal Government announced its Building a National Approach to Animal and Plant Health program. This initiative seeks to maintain Australia’s status as a sought after supplier of high quality, ‘clean, green’ agricultural produce. Within this initiative, funds were made available to Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry – Australia (AFFA) as administered funds for the Program Emergency Management Planning for aquatic animal diseases. As per an Agreement between AFFA and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), these monies are administered by the FRDC on AFFA’s behalf. The FRDC’s vehicle for delivery is the FRDC Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram.
During December 2001 and January 2002, stakeholders from industry and governments in Australia nominated their priorities for projects under this Program. On 15 February 2002, the Subprogram’s Steering Committee and Scientific Advisory Committee met to evaluate the nominations. Through this process, the Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS) – Disease Strategy Manual was approved as a priority. This Manual is one of a total of nine disease strategy and Operational manuals approved as priorities through this process.
These Manuals will form part of a series that are being developed under Australia’s National Strategic Plan for Aquatic Animal Health (AQUAPLAN) and collectively will be known as AQUAVETPLAN.
Keywords: Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia, VHS, VHSV, Strategy Manual, Control.