Significant Disease Investigation (SDI) program
Victoria is fortunate to be free of most of the serious diseases that affect animals in other parts of the world. Despite this fact, on-going surveillance is important in order to ensure the early detection of animal diseases that might impact on trade, regional or national productivity, public health, or biodiversity.
The Victorian Significant Disease Investigation (SDI) Program aims to boost Victoria's capacity for the early detection of such diseases in livestock and wildlife by increasing the participation of veterinary practitioners and subsidising the cost of investigating significant diseases.
Subsidies available for veterinarians and livestock producers
Subsidies are available from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) for the initial field investigation, including clinical and post-mortem evaluation, laboratory testing and a follow-up investigation of significant disease events in livestock and free-living wildlife. Livestock includes ruminants, horses, pigs and poultry.
Eligible veterinary practitioners are those in private veterinary practice, zoos or wildlife parks.
Disease investigation is often hampered by factors such as reduced economic value of livestock and remote location of farms. To assist with overcoming this, a subsidy is also available for cattle, sheep, goat and pig owners to reduce their costs when they engage a veterinary practitioner to undertake a significant disease investigation.
The subsidies are:
For veterinary practitioners:
- Undertaking and reporting the initial disease investigation to DEDJTR - $300 plus GST
- Undertaking and reporting a follow-up investigation to DEDJTR - $300 plus GST, (This includes follow up blood testing where convalescent sera is required to confirm a diagnosis e.g. arboviral diseases such as Ross River Virus)
- Laboratory testing costs - up to $500 (not payable to the veterinary practitioner).
For cattle, sheep, goat and pig producers:
A subsidy provided by the Victorian livestock industry of up to $200 for cattle, sheep, goat and pig producers for the engagement of a veterinary practitioner to undertake a significant disease investigation is available. This subsidy is for the veterinarian's consultation, disease investigation (eg. autopsy) and travel costs, excluding medications, and is provided in the form of a deduction from the practitioner's fee. The practitioner will then be reimbursed by the department. The subsidy is only applicable for significant disease investigations authorised by DEDJTR following application from a veterinarian. The number of such subsidies paid is subject to an annual cap.
Sudden death investigations: special arrangements for anthrax exclusion testing
Anthrax exclusion testing should be carried out on all sudden, unexplained deaths of cattle, sheep and other susceptible livestock. Field testing of cattle and sheep carcases can be carried out using a hand held immunochromatographic test (ICT).
To encourage anthrax exclusion testing, particularly in areas of Victoria with a history of anthrax, the department will pay private practitioners $200 plus GST for a basic anthrax exclusion. This involves performing an ICT and reporting the summary findings to the local DEDJTR District Veterinary Officer (DVO) using a Record of Disease Event (RODE) form. Note that the SDI Program producer subsidy does not apply for such investigations.
Where anthrax is suspected, the department must be notified immediately and the carcass should remain undisturbed and unopened at the death site until anthrax is ruled out.
To encourage this, cattle producers are eligible for an industry-funded incentive payment of $1,000 following diagnosis of anthrax if the carcass has not been moved from the death site.
Where anthrax is not suspected following a negative ICT result and a further investigation of the cause of death is undertaken by the practitioner (including necropsy), the investigation may be eligible for other subsidies as described on this page.
What is a significant disease?
To be considered 'significant', one or more of the following criteria must be met for the disease event:
- An unusual or atypical manifestation of disease, including high morbidity, mortality and/or rate of spread;
- An initial investigation fails to establish a diagnosis, including when veterinary treatment does not produce the expected response;
- There are findings suggesting a possible effect on trade, public health, biodiversity or the viability of a farm, industry or region, excluding events where there is a genuine suspicion of an emergency animal disease.
- Where there is a genuine suspicion of an exotic or emergency animal disease, the department will lead the disease investigation and cover the cost of the investigation.
If you suspect an exotic or emergency animal disease, immediately contact your local DEDJTR Animal Health office or the all-hours Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.
Procedure for undertaking significant disease investigations
Where possible, practitioners should seek authorisation from their local DEDJTR District Veterinary Officer (DVO) prior to or at the time of undertaking the field investigation. If the DVO cannot be contacted, authorisation may be sought from the DEDJTR Regional Veterinary Officer (RVO) for the practitioner's geographical region. Although it may be impractical to seek authorisation prior to or at the time of the on-farm investigation, authorisation for the investigation must be sought prior to the submission of laboratory samples.
Specimens for laboratory testing must be submitted to the following laboratories:
- For all species except pigs, to the Veterinary Diagnostics Services - AgriBio, Bundoora (tel: 9032 7515, email: firstname.lastname@example.org);
- For pigs, to the Pig Health and Research Unit, located at Bendigo (tel: 5430 4569, email: Pigs.Bendigo@ecodev.vic.gov.au).
All laboratory submissions must be accompanied with an interim Record of Disease Event (RODE) form. Unless the RODE is provided with the laboratory submission, the submitting veterinary practice will be responsible for the cost of diagnostic testing. The Duty Pathologist will make a determination of the type and sequence of testing. Note that any additional testing not indicated for the investigation, but requested by the submitter, will be completed on a fee-for-service basis by prior agreement with the submitter.
A final typewritten RODE is to be provided promptly to the approving DVO following the completion of the investigation. For follow-up investigations, authorisation must be provided by DEDJTR and a separate RODE is to be provided.
Conditions of payment
Payment for investigations to veterinary practitioners is conditional upon the following:
- Authorisation by DEDJTR for the investigation.
- Samples and interim RODE submitted to the DEDJTR laboratory.
- The completed investigation reported on a typewritten RODE, along with copies of any submission form(s) and laboratory reports, to the approving DVO.
- If a cattle, sheep, goat or pig producer subsidy is being claimed, a copy of the veterinary practice's tax invoice to the producer must be provided to the approving DVO, showing the deduction of up to $200.
- An itemised tax invoice for $300 plus GST for the RODE, and if eligible, up to $200 plus GST for the producer subsidy, is provided by the veterinary practice to the approving DVO with the above mentioned documentation. The tax invoice should include the producer's name, PIC and a comment that it relates to a significant disease investigation, and be issued within 60 days of the investigation being completed.
For more information about the subsidies for significant disease investigations and reporting, contact our Animal Health staff at your nearest DEDJTR office or our Customer Service Centre on 136 186.
Submission form for DEDJTR Veterinary Diagnostic Services - AgriBio