Farmers should know the outcome of bluetongue virus testing this week, with the temporary bluetongue virus zone established in October now lifted.
Victoria’s chief veterinary officer Dr Charles Milne said all farmers could be expected to be notified of their results, whether they be positive or negative, via post.
Along with their results, farmers will be provided with a direct point of contact who can respond to any further questions and a public meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 13 from 7pm at Lockington Recreation Reserve where Dr Milne will answer questions.
The temporary zone was put in place in October following the discovery of past exposure to bluetongue virus detected in several 12-month-old dairy heifers at a property near Bamawm.
Bluetongue is a viral disease of livestock spread by flying insects known as midges and while endemic in northern Australia, Victoria, along with the rest of southern Australia, has previously been classified as being free of BTV.
‘‘The analysis of results is complete. Going forward we’re doing continued surveillance on four sentinel herds and setting up midge trapping sites and will continue to do that surveillance over the next six to seven months,’’ Dr Milne said.
‘‘(This is designed to) ascertain whether there’s a cycle of infection in the area, which we think is highly unlikely.’’
Results of extensive testing throughout Victoria demonstrate that past exposure of cattle to the virus through local transmission has occurred in a small number of animals.
Dr Milne said more than 2500 dairy and beef cattle across 103 herds had been sampled in response to the detection, as well as other animals within a 5km radius of where evidence of exposure to the virus was first found.
‘‘Our investigation has shown that the animals that triggered the surveillance came from the recognised BTV transmission zone in New South Wales,’’ Dr Milne said.
‘‘There is no current evidence of the virus circulating in the temporary precautionary zone, or presence of the insect that spreads it.
‘‘The likelihood that bluetongue virus has become established in Victoria is low.’’