Exotic Animal Disease Newsletter Vol 2 Issue 2 - July 2008


Volume 2, Issue 2 - July 2008


Annually, globally rabies is responsible for the deaths of 55,000 people (mainly in Africa and Asia) and 30-50% of these cases are children. In addition 10 million people re

ceive post exposure treatment. In the past the movement of dogs and other susceptible pets from rabies endemic areas entailed long quarantine periods. In recent years the movements of pet animals has been based on prior identification, vaccination and testing to demonstrate an effective immune response. The quarantine period has been minimised.

Canine cases

Recent cases have included dogs from north Africa entering Belgium and France with vaccination and health certification, developing clinical rabies post arrival. Tracing these animals post arrival revealed many potential human and animal exposures. In the USA a dog returning with troops from Iraq in June tested positive for rabies. The 26 animals in the shipment were distributed to 16 states, requiring tracing and extensive follow up activities. This was the third such case in recent times.

In the UK rabies was diagnosed in a 10 week old dog (whilst in quarantine) imported from Sri Lanka by an animal rescue charity. 42 people had close contact with the puppy during its “rescue”, transportation and quarantine.

These cases serve to highlight the threat of rabies associated with the importation of dogs. They also serve to remind those involved in animal imports of the importance of post arrival quarantine, irrespective of the vaccination history.

Those involved in the trade need to ensure that staff are aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions such as prior vaccination against rabies for those who may handle such animals.

Sheep and goat pox

Capripox virus was recently reported as the cause of disease in sheep and goats on two premises in Taiwan. The morbidity rates were 80% and 100% and the mortality rates were 13% and 24% in the sheep and goats respectively. The herds and flocks were slaughtered out. It is believed that tourists inadvertently introduced the infection.

Capripox virus causes fever, generalised papules or nodules, internal lesions (often affecting the lungs) and death. Strains of the virus can cause more severe signs in sheep or goats, but both species can be affected by all strains of this virus.

Capripox is endemic in Africa north of the equator, the Middle East, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and China. Recently this disease has been on the move with reports during 2007 of outbreaks in Greece, Mongolia, Vietnam and now Taiwan.

The AUSVETPLAN disease control strategy for Sheep and Goat Pox has recently been reviewed. Given that capripox could enter Australia in a similar fashion it is important that veterinarians and their small ruminant clients ensure their biosecurity plans are appropriate to address this threat and are implemented.

Old world screwworm fly (OWS)

In November 2007 the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed OWS (Chrysomya bezziana) infestation in a 9 month old Labrador retriever in Massachusetts. The dog arrived by plane from Singapore. On arrival the owner noticed a wound near the tail and took the dog to a veterinary surgeon. The veterinarian excised and collected larvae from the wound and forwarded them via USDA to NVSL for identification. The larvae were identified as 2nd to 3rd instar stage, indicating the maggots were several days from exiting the wound as larvae able to pupate. Despite the low risk of infestation resulting in this case, all locations and vehicles that the dog had contact with were inspected and treated with insecticide.

This is a very good example where the animal owner, veterinary surgeon, laboratory and government were aware and worked together to ensure a successful outcome.

Visiting speaker

In September the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is hosting Dr Roy Bengis to talk to practitioners, and others in Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

Dr Bengis is the chief veterinarian at Kruger National Park in South Africa and has considerable experience in a number of significant animal diseases including foot and mouth, swine fevers, rift valley fever, African horse sickness and tuberculosis.


Rift Valley fever

A full description of this disease was given in the EAD Bulletin 100 published in the AVJ June 2007. During 2008 cases have been reported in South Africa and Madagascar.

The 18 human cases reported in South Africa are interesting as they include a veterinary surgeon who conducted an autopsy, 5 veterinary students and two laboratory technicians. Are your infection control practices effective?

African swine fever

In Vol. 1 edition 2 of this newsletter we reported that ASF had been reported in Europe in Georgia. Since then it has spread to Armenia, the Russian Federation (Chechnya and North Ossetia-Alania) and Azerbaijan. All are located in the Caucasus. Veterinary services in this area are limited, delaying diagnosis and the imposition of movement restrictions on pigs. Cases in wild boar have been reported to date only in Chechnya and it is believed the disease is mainly spreading by means of movement of infected pigs or products from infected pigs. The competency of local ticks to act as vectors of ASF is yet to be assessed. Should the disease become endemic in the Caucasus it would present a risk to the rest of Europe.

Bluetongue in northern Europe

The OIE recently published a scientific monograph entitled “Bluetongue in northern Europe”. It is edited by C. Saegerman, F. Reviriego-Gordejo and P-P. Pastoret and is available from OIE Publications

This is a good reference for the field veterinarian with colour photographs of the clinical and post mortem lesions seen with BTV-8 in cattle and sheep, a concise description of the clinical signs, tables to compare the clinical signs seen in diseases included in a differential diagnosis, a description of the current epizootic, information on sample collection and the laboratory tests available.

Notifiable diseases

Early recognition of a serious or exotic animal disease is one of the most important factors influencing the chance of controlling the disease and reducing its economic and social impact on the whole community. Some diseases are notifiable to assist trade in animals and animal products. Government recognises this issue by defining some animal diseases as “notifiable diseases”. These are animal diseases that when suspected by owners, vets or laboratories must be reported to their relevant state or territory animal health authority within a defined timeframe.

Each state and territory has a list of 'notifiable' animal diseases. The requirement to report notifiable disease is contained in individual state and territory legislation. States and territory notifiable disease lists contain all the diseases in the national list and can include others specific to that state or territory.

Depending on the disease, notification does not necessarily result in the implementation of control measures with major consequences for the owner.


New diseases do occur. You may be looking at the first case.


Further information on these diseases can be obtained from the AUSVETPLAN website

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