World Zoonoses Day 2023 – what the AVA is doing to help

06 Jul 2023


In recognition of World Zoonoses Day on Thursday 6 July, the AVA would like to alert members to some resources available on zoonotic diseases.

The AVA has a comprehensive policy on zoonotic diseases. The policy includes the definition and covers reasons why there may be an increased incidence of zoonotic diseases worldwide and the need for a ‘One Health’ approach to these diseases. It also outlines how veterinarians can help identify and manage the spread of emerging infectious diseases.

We also have additional resources about specific zoonotic diseases:

Japanese Encephalitis Virus

  • The AVA’s Veterinary and Public Affairs team maintains an up-to-date page about Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV).
  • JEV, a viral mosquito-borne zoonotic disease, was previously exotic to Australia. It was first detected in Australian pigs in 2022; by the end of May 2022 Japanese encephalitis (JE) had infected 79 piggeries across QLD (17), NSW (30), VIC (23) and SA (9).
  • Our latest update was in May 2023 and provides links to state-based resources and information about the most recently identified cases.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus

  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Virus, caused by subtypes H5 and H7 of type A Avian Influenza, is currently exotic to Australia. Some strains of HPAI are zoonotic and pose a threat to human health. Its high pathogenicity, morbidity and mortality rates have the capacity to decimate our local avian industry.
  • HPAI was the main topic of discussion at the recent World Organisation for Animal Health 90th General Session in Paris. AVA President at the time, Dr Bronwyn Orr, attended as a representative for the AVA, alongside Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Mark Schipp. The AVA’s attendance at the meeting was an important way to bring the voice of the veterinary profession into this global discussion. It was also an opportunity learn from our international colleagues to keep HPAI out of Australia.

Other zoonotic diseases

  • During Australian outbreaks of Hendravirus and leptospirosis, the AVA kept members updated with topical information, links to resources, support and evidence-based recommendations.

AVA’s support of an Australian CDC

Apart from keeping members up to date about potential zoonotic disease outbreaks, and being part of the national and global discussion on the surveillance and management of Emergency Animal Diseases (EADs), the AVA contributes to disease management by supporting the development of a National Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

The AVA has joined other health-based organisations, including the Australian Medical Association and Public Health Association of Australia, in calls for a National CDC. Due to the ongoing threat of emerging zoonotic diseases, a One Health approach is necessary. The AVA made a comprehensive submission on the role and functions of an Australian CDC in December 2022.

Veterinarians are vital in the detection and rapid management of zoonotic disease outbreaks, and the AVA seeks to support these efforts in a number of different ways.

In celebration of World Zoonoses Day, we wish to say thanks to the Australian veterinarians and veterinary professionals who work hard to keep the public safe.