The Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group has launched an awareness campaign, highlighting the seriousness of Q Fever as a drain on the industry’s supply chain.
The VFF estimated the livestock industry lost 1,700 weeks in productivity each year, and millions of dollars across the supply chain, due to a lack of understanding around Q Fever.
The $100,000 campaign includes industry workshops, preparedness toolkits and targeted advertising to promote the dangers of Q Fever.
The campaign also stresses the importance of vaccination.
“Q Fever is carried by cattle, sheep, goats, feral animals and rodents, and can be transmitted to humans,” VFF Livestock president Leonard Vallance said.
“It affects farmers, farm employees, shearers, animal carriers, abattoir workers, meat inspectors and vets, so if you work with livestock right across the supply chain, you are at risk of getting Q Fever.”
Mr Vallance said Q Fever was a massive issue with around 600 cases reported across Australia each year.
Q Fever costs the industry millions of dollars annually in lost productivity, medical costs and other expenses.
“Q Fever costs the meat industry alone at least $1 million every year, and when you add that up across all the livestock industries, it’s pretty significant and really underscores the importance of getting your employees vaccinated,” he said.
“The vaccine is 96-98 per cent effective for cases vaccinated during incubation and totally effective when it’s not, so it’s a one-off expense that becomes a worthy investment when you consider the lost productivity, health problems, and potential legal issues you risk if you don’t get your staff inoculated.”
Mr Vallance encouraged livestock industry employers to come to VFF run events and do their part to minimise the risks of contracting Q Fever by staying on top of the latest information about the disease.
“This campaign will give the whole supply chain an opportunity to improve their knowledge and how they could be affected if they aren’t vaccinated,” he said.
“But it’s also up to employers to make the effort to read the fact sheets and come to our seminars to learn just how destructive the disease can be to the livestock industry.”
At Meredith Dairy, which milks sheep and goats, owners Sandy and Julie Cameron had a major outbreak of Q-Fever around three years ago.
Q-Fever management was now embedded in policies and procedures, with a risk assessment carried out, across locations and activities, that dictated the prevention measures to be taken.
All employees at Meredith had to be vaccinated or produce evidence of immunity to Q-Fever.