​Media Release

Rapid bluetongue test to support livestock trade​

21 March 2019

  • Rapid testing for bluetongue virus will help identify exotic strains faster
  • Results will provide assurance to trading partners, safeguard Australia's reputation for clean, high quality produce
  • Development of the test was supported by a $350,000 government investment 

A new test for bluetongue virus (BTV) will give farmers results in hours and help safeguard the nation's livestock industries.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Coalition Government invested around $350,000 to support the development of the rapid molecular test. 

"This new test provides results in hours, instead of weeks or months, and can test for more than one strain at a time," said Minster Littleproud.

"This is a huge benefit to industry and farmers and vital for international market access.

"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.

"It also improves our monitoring of BTV in Australia, so we can provide area of freedom assurance to trading partners and support the future of our livestock trade."

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

The test was developed with funding from the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, in partnership with the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute within the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, the Australian Animal Health Laboratory within the CSIRO, and the Berrimah Veterinary Laboratory within the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries.

Fast Facts:

  • Bluetongue virus (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.
  • Although clinical disease does not occur in Australian livestock, BTV can have a significant impact on trade in live animals, semen and embryos.
  • Strains of bluetongue virus are present in northern and parts of eastern Australia. Australia is free from some of the more pathogenic strains of BTV such as BTV 8.
  • The National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP) monitors the distribution of arboviruses, including BTV, to help manage the risks, support trade and provide an early warning to the livestock industry.
  • The delineation of Australia's area of freedom from BTV benefits the livestock industry through the maintenance and opening of livestock export market opportunities.​