Australian Pig Veterinarians in Fremantle

Australian Pig Veterinarians kicked off a full program for their 2-day annual conference in Fremantle, Western Australia.

Dr Sue Skirrow got us off to a great start with her presentation on influenza virus A in pigs. She discussed areas where infection has spread (possibly everywhere!) and outlined action taken by animal disease authorities. Kim Nairn also spoke on his experience with influenza A cases and the need for therapeutic agents to support the young pigs through the infection. The Animal Health Committee will be reviewing the official position on the government’s response to influenza A. 

International speaker Professor Marcello Gottshalk from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Montreal gave an excellent series of talks on managing zoonotic Streptococcus suis and the diagnosis of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (the aetiological agent of swine pleuropneumonia) based on his vast laboratory experience in Canada.

Drs Sam Abraham and Mark O’Dea presented on new diagnostic tools used at Murdoch University, with a current project on identifying the ecology of S. suis and relating identified isolates to colonisation and disease. Dr Hugo Dunlop also spoke on new diagnostics being developed at Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, and a similar project on identifying isolates of Erysipelas spp. Hugo will be providing information for Australian Pig Veterinarians members on how to submit samples for this project.

Professor David Hampson gave an update on Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, the spirochaetal cause of swine dysentery, outlining its global significance resulting from its increasing multi-resistance and the ongoing work on improving diagnosis and assessing resistance. David will be retiring as Dean of Murdoch this year and we wish him well in what sounds like a very busy ‘retirement’.

Other presentations included

  • a discussion on assessing pain and pain relief practices, particularly for longer term therapy and smaller pigs
  • projects relating to surveillance and disease modelling
  • investigations into a puzzling syndrome described as ‘epidermal condition’ seen over the past 10 years at a particular abattoir, which has led to losses related to skinning
  • work on new infectious agents of interest including rotavirus C infection in preweaning deaths and a new, as yet unnamed, Actinobacillus species, Taxon C that is causing disease on farms and pleurisy at abattoirs
  • current investigations into preweaning deaths that appear to be caused by Mycoplasma hyorhinitis infection
  • a very thought-provoking talk on a piggery fire in a farrowing house and the aftermath
  • two student projects looking at, respectively, the differences in iron needs of young piglets housed indoors and free range, and clinical disease in influenza A virus in swine.

The Animal Health Australia Emergency Management workshop run by Drs Peter Dagg, Claire Petterson and Ian Langstaff covered the Emergency Animal Disease Response Plan and Agreement and Biosecurity Plans. Compensation, the need to look at individual state legislation to determine how it is paid and the role of veterinarians in outbreaks were discussed. Participants were also run through a range of scenarios, including the national stock standstill and how they will be dealt with by government and industry in the event of an outbreak.

Many thanks to conference convenors Drs Kate Savage and Susan Dawson for putting on a wonderful conference, and to all our sponsors.

Regina Fogarty
Australian Pig Veterinarians

This article appeared in the November 2017 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal

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