Beef farmers in the Australian state of Queensland have expressed concern after cattle on a farm in the region tested positive for Bovine Johne’s disease (BJD).
Queensland’s Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry first announced the detection of the disease yesterday (26 November). It said that the herd appeared to have been infected for some time and that there had been “substantial cattle movements” between the infected farm and other properties, both in Queensland and outside the state.
It added that it was tracing cattle movements to assess how far the disease might have spread, and would work with the cattle industry to minimise the potential impacts. Cattle farmers were urged to contact their veterinarian and refrain from culling cattle.
“The Queensland Government and the national beef industry are working together to prevent any further spread of infection, with the aim of eradicating the disease from the state,” said a statement. “Biosecurity Queensland officers are contacting affected producers to provide information and contain the risk of disease spread.”
Until recently, Queensland had maintained a low prevelance of BJD, a serious disease affecting cattle and ruminants that causes chronic diarrhoea, leading to emaciation and death in some animals.
Farming union AgForce Queensland said detection of the disease was therefore worrying for farmers, although there was no food safety risk for consumers.
“It is very rare for BJD to be detected in Queensland as we are a Protected Zone under the National Bovine Johne’s Disease Plan which has worked well in the past to manage and prevent the disease,” explained the incoming AgForce Cattle Board president Howard Smith.
“The safety of eating beef and associated products will not be impacted by the detection of this disease in Central Queensland, but given there have been substantial movements of stock from the affected property over recent years, there is some risk of disease spread.”
Smith said that AgForce would lobby the government to ensure Queensland farmers were supported through the crisis, adding that the presence of BJD in most of Australia’s key beef export destinations meant that trade should not be compromised. “We have no reason to suggest at this stage we will not be able to maintain our protected status,” he said.