Fiji officials predict brucellosis outbreak under full control within a year | Pacific Beat

Fiji officials predict brucellosis outbreak under full control within a year

Fiji officials predict brucellosis outbreak under full control within a year

Updated 2 May 2013, 11:16 AEST

Fiji's veterinary service has been struggling to eradicate an outbreak of the cattle disease, brucellosis.

Selling stock without declaring it through official channels has been partly responsible for the infection spread.

But veterinary authorities say after a major effort, they expect to have the disease fully under control within the next 12 months.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Dr Stephen Angus, Principal Veterinary Officer from the Department of Agriculture in Fiji

ANGUS: First of all I'll give you a brief history of brucellosis in Fiji, there was a major campaign to eradicate brucellosis and tuberculosis in the 80s. Fiji was declared free of brucellosis on or about 1990. But unfortunately TB was never eradicated and brucellosis re-emerged in 2009. It started with an abortion storm in an area called Tailevu which is one of the major dairying areas not far from Suva.
COUTTS: So the link between TB and brucellosis, so is it transmitted between people and cattle?
ANGUS: The link, they're both zoonotic diseases affecting both animals and humans and they are of public health concern. The two diseases are not inextricably linked except through the dairying industry. 
COUTTS: Well how contagious is it and I guess the follow on from that is it easily spread?
ANGUS: Brucellosis and tuberculosis are easily spread, they're both bacterial diseases, they're both highly infectious and if left unchecked you can get quite high morbidities.
COUTTS: Now where exactly are the flashpoints, the points of most concern in Fiji at the moment?
ANGUS: The concerns at the moment are that brucellosis is mainly in the dairy industry, the major dairying areas in the central region of Fiji.
COUTTS: Now the brucellosis itself in cattle can it be cured or if an animal gets it does it necessarily mean it needs to be destroyed?
ANGUS: Unfortunately that is so, there is no effective cure, once an animal is infected it generally is infected for life and unfortunately has to be destroyed.
COUTTS: And does that mean that if a cow in a herd gets it, does that mean the whole herd is contaminated?
ANGUS: Absolutely not, we have had major success in the last year in cleaning out a number of herds of cattle of this infection.
COUTTS: Now the problem of not being able to contain it, how can that be explained?
ANGUS: Hang on a second, I think someone's been misinforming you.  Containing it is exactly what we've been doing in the last 12 months. Prior to that it was in an epidemic phase and the prevalence rose to approximately three per cent of the dairy herd in the central region. It is currently running at well under one per cent.
COUTTS: Well why can't it be eradicated?
ANGUS: It certainly can be eradicated and we are putting in major efforts to do so.
COUTTS: But it hasn't been because it's been evident in the country for some years now?
ANGUS: It's been evident since 2009, as I explained there was an abortion storm and that was the re-emergence of brucellosis after an absence of nearly 20 years in Fiji. 
COUTTS: So what happens from this point on?
ANGUS: From this point on,  we put in a major effort into controlling the infected herds. As I say we're having some considerable degree of success at the moment, and we expect to have the disease fully under control within the next 12 months.



Geraldine Coutts

Geraldine Coutts


Geraldine is a respected voice on issues in the Pacific and is the presenter of our morning Pacific Beat  program.

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