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

Puggle in progress

Australian veterinarians, nurses and wildlife carers are adept at hand-rearing orphaned native mammals. Various species of possum, wallaby, kangaroo, bat and glider have been successfully reared and released into thewild.

Any carer will tell you that once the novelty wears off, hand rearing is hard work. Often requiring feeds spaced one to two hours apart, their tiny charges require plenty of dedication and sleep deprivation.

But as Top End veterinary nurses Caroline Francis and Tess Cooper discovered, that’s not quite the case when it comes to raising an orphaned short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus).

The echidna in question, nicknamed Makka Pakka after a character from the ABC’s In the Night Garden, was found in the pouch of his injured mother who was rushed to the Ark Animal Hospital in Palmerston, just out of Darwin. Initially Makka’s mother received veterinary care, but it became clear that she was not responding.

“She had suffered from trauma including major injuries to her digging toes and her condition was deteriorating,” Francis said. “She was losing weight drastically and she reached a stage where she just unfolded her pouch and wouldn’t or couldn’t let him back in.” Continue reading Puggle in progress