Call for new thinking on disease prediction and planning

A University of Adelaide scientist says much more could be done to predict the likelihood and spread of serious disease – such as tuberculosis (TB) or foot-and-mouth disease – in Australian wildlife and commercial stock.

Corey Bradshaw and colleagues have evaluated freely available software tools that provide a realistic prediction of the spread of disease among animals.

They used a combination of models to look at the possible spread of TB among feral water buffalo in the Northern Territory.

In the 1980s and 1990s the government of the time began a broad-scale culling program, culling tens of thousands of buffalo.

“The cull successfully reduced or eradicated buffalo from major pastoral lands in the Northern Territory, taking tuberculosis with it, but since then there has been no major follow-up culling. The buffalo population is re-invading the formerly culled areas,” Bradshaw, Director of Ecological Modelling at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, said.

“Although Australia now trades its livestock under the ‘TB-free’ banner, the disease is prevalent throughout Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Realistically, it’s only a matter of time before it rears its ugly head again here. If it does, it could potentially cost our cattle industry billions of dollars.” Continue reading Call for new thinking on disease prediction and planning