|3.1. Identify possible improvements to increase the sensitivity of Australia’s passive surveillance systems for aquatic animal diseases|
The SCAAH Increasing Sensitivity of Passive Surveillance Systems working group (WG) oversees implementation of this activity. For phase 1, the WG agreed that a social science survey was required to identify any weaknesses and areas for potential improvement in Australia’s current passive (general) surveillance system for aquatic animal diseases. A competitive tender process was undertaken and an independent research company was selected by the WG, and commissioned by the department, to undertake the survey. The survey was funded through the
Agricultural Competiveness White Paper initiative.
Three aquaculture sectors (abalone, barramundi and yellowtail kingfish) and aquatic animal health providers to those industries were surveyed. Respondents were identified and a literature review July 2018. The questionnaire for the qualitative interviews was developed and reviewed by the WG in August 2018, and the qualitative interviews completed in September 2018. The quantitative questionnaire was subsequently developed and the quantitative interviews completed from October 2018 to January 2019. The final report was received in March 2019 and will inform the development of phase 2 of the project.
|3.2. Make the Aquatic animal diseases significant to Australia identification field guide available as an application for mobile devices|
The 4th edition of the field guide was deployed as an app across
iOS platforms in March 2017.
Although this activity is complete, the 5th edition of the field guide is currently being developed to include current scientific information. Both the website version and the mobile app will be revised.
|3.3. Undertake aquatic animal health benchmarking for specific aquaculture industry sectors|
The SCAAH Benchmarking working group prepared and submitted a project proposal to the FRDC’s Aquatic Animal Health and Biosecurity Subprogram in February 2019. The proposal was successful and oversight of the project was handed to the principal investigators at SCAAH-35 (face-to-face meeting; 20-21 March 2019).
The abalone, barramundi, southern bluefin tuna, and Murray cod industries were identified as potential model industries for the project. The project lead has met with the abalone, barramundi and southern bluefin tuna industries to inform them of the project and seek their involvement. This has been generally successful.
Phase 1 of the project will involve surveying each of the target industries to gain a better understanding of the type of production parameters that farmers currently monitor and record. The results will be used to inform the development of phase 2.
Phase 2 will involve setting up a ‘charter of accounts’ for each industry. That is, a system for data collection, storage and utilisation will be set up for each industry to ensure farms in each industry are collecting the same data in the same way. A consultant will be engaged for this phase of the project.
|3.4. Adopt processes (new or existing) for formal recognition of validation status of diagnostic tests and identify specific test validation priorities|
The SCAAH Validation Testing working group (WG) presented its report for comment at SCAAH-25 in March 2016. Comments were addressed and the report was finalised on 22 March 2016. The WG completed its work plan in August 2016. It noted the on-going nature of validation work.
Further activities under activity 3.4 (e.g. validation of specific diagnostic tests) were funded by the department, as part of the
Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative (see activity 3.6).
|3.5. Develop stable positive control material and internal controls for molecular tests for detection of important endemic and exotic pathogens|
The final report for FRDC project 2014/002 ’Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram: Development of stable positive control material and development of internal controls for molecular tests for detection of important endemic and exotic pathogens’ is pending endorsement, but all project activities have been completed.
The quality assurance of controls and the distribution of protocols and DNA/RNA controls to laboratories are both complete. The provision of advice regarding implementation of protocols and troubleshooting based on feedback from participating laboratories are also complete.
Positive control materials for 32 PCR assays have been prepared. Materials distributed to laboratories, on request.
|3.6. Develop validated diagnostic tests for significant new and emerging diseases of aquatic animals in Australia|
Projects on Abalone herpesvirus, Pilchard orthomyxo-like virus (POMV), prawn viruses and oyster oedema disease (OOD) are complete and reports are available on the FRDC’s website (FRDC Projects
Projects investigating Yellow head virus genotypes,
Perkinsus olseni, and
Penaeus monodon mortality syndrome are ongoing (FRDC Projects
Projects validating molecular tests for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and ostreid herpesvirus-1 (OsHV-1) are ongoing. WSSV: manuscript to be submitted and the OIE chapter updated. OsHV-1: laboratory data to be collated, gaps identified and further data generated if required. The final report is due at the end of June 2019. These projects are funded by the department though the
Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative.
|3.7. Improve the breadth of data in
Neptune, particularly histopathology slide collections|
The Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network (ABIN) ceased its hosting duties of Neptune in 2014. The CSIRO agreed to host Neptune from 2015.
The department and CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) agreed on a two year project to recover and redevelop Neptune from the ABIN archive and permanently host it on CSIRO IT-infrastructure and make it available for Australia’s aquatic animal health community. The project commenced in July 2017. An IT specialist was recruited to redevelop Neptune and manage scanning of additional histopathological slides into Neptune.
A prototype Neptune site was developed on CSIRO systems in 2018. CSIRO-AAHL and the department evaluated the beta 1 prototype and a beta 2 was subsequently developed. The beta 2 version has been evaluated by CSIRO-AAHL and the department and will be provided to SCAAH for comment.
Scanning of slide collections is in progress and standardised annotation protocols for digitising additional histological slides will be considered by SCAAH.
This project was funded by the department through the
Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative.
|3.8. Describe existing components of Australia’s aquatic animal disease diagnosis network to identify interactions, responsibilities and performance measures||Specific components of the network include:
- Australian and New Zealand standard diagnostic procedures (ANZSDPs) for aquatic animal diseases: work plan developed and endorsed. ANZSDPs in progress.
- National laboratory proficiency testing program: 2013-15 program complete. Program in review and final report drafted. 2017-19 program has commenced.
- Aquatic animal health technical forum: 2013-15 program complete. Final report available on the FRDC’s website (FRDC Project
2012/002). The most recent FRDC Aquatic animal health technical forum was held at the Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment in Tasmania, in March 2019.
- SCAAH now the administrator of the Aquatic Slide of the Quarter. This program is on-going.
- Laboratories for Emergency Animal Disease Diagnosis and Response (LEADDR): OsHV-1, WSSV and
Megalocytivirus tests have been included in proficiency testing.
Neptune: see activity 3.7.
An overview document describing Australia’s aquatic animal disease diagnosis network has been drafted and will be sent to SCAAH for consideration and comment.