Enhanced diagnostics, molecular epidemiology and disease ecology for anthrax
The Enhanced diagnostics, molecular epidemiology and disease ecology for anthrax project aimed to develop knowledge and tools to help optimise response strategies and assist in the prevention of anthrax within Australia.
Outbreaks of anthrax occur sporadically in Australia commonly in the anthrax belt. However, little is known about the epidemiological links between Bacillus anthracis strains isolated from different outbreaks and the overall diversity of strains within Australia. These factors makes outbreak prediction difficult.
Molecular epidemiological studies were undertaken using the most differential genotyping techniques available. The diversity revealed within Australian B. anthracis strains is consistent with the historical records with the greatest diversity of isolates identified where the organism has been resident for the longest period of time. Results suggests a single genotype was introduced into the Eastern states of Australia and that this introduction was followed by spread of the pathogen throughout the anthrax belt.
Unexplained occurrences of disease in areas outside of the anthrax belt, which are associated with different genotypes, indicating separate introductions of B. anthracis into Australia.
In order to better predict the ecological and geographic distribution of B. anthracis, an ecological niche model was developed. In addition, soil studies were undertaken that confirmed the longevity of anthrax spores in the environment.
The distribution of immuno-chromatographic test kits around Australia has enabled the successful update and increased usage of these kits. This project has provided knowledge and tools to help optimise response strategies and assist in the prevention of anthrax.
Project concluded: June 2014
Contacts: Dr Simone Warner, Janine Muller and Mark Fegan
For more information please read the final report summary and download the final report (B.AHE.0032) (PDF, 3.9 MB) from the Meat & Livestock Australia website.