Livestock

New blue-tongue test huge benefit

By Country News

A new test for blue-tongue virus will allow farmers to receive results in hours and provide better assurance to trading partners.

The $350000 investment by the Federal Government will see a rapid molecular test developed to identify exotic strains for the virus faster.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the wait time would be reduced to hours from weeks or months, with more than one strain able to be tested for at once.

‘‘This is a huge benefit to industry and farmers and vital for international market access,’’ he said.

‘‘The faster we can identify BTV, the quicker we can take steps to manage it.

‘‘If we have a virus detection in our BTV-free zones, or identify a new strain of the virus, we can respond faster to minimise any impact on industry.’’

The test will be implemented through the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program.

BTV is an insect-borne virus than can infect ruminants, including sheep and cattle.

Infection of cattle with BTV has never caused clinical disease in Australia, but sheep are susceptible to BTV and can develop severe illness.

BTV can have a significant impact on trade in live animals, semen and embryos.