CAT-BORNE disease that can cause miscarriages in sheep, goats and pigs, and lead to their meat being condemned will be discussed at a Tasmanian forum this week.
The farmer forum at Bruny Island’s CWA Hall on Friday June 5 at 4:30pm, will educate producers on cat-borne diseases that can be costly and hard to manage without close collaboration with neighbours.
Senior veterinarian, Dr Bruce Jackson from Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) will be guest presenter.
Farms around rural townships at highest risk
Livestock Biosecurity Network regional officer Dr Jess Coad said feral cats help spread two main diseases: toxoplasmosis and sarcocystis.
“Toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriages in sheep, goats and pigs, while sarcocystis creates large cysts in the muscle tissue of sheep, contaminating their meat and making it unsuitable for sale.”
Toxoplasmosis and sarcocystis are transmitted to livestock through spores in infected cats’ faeces, when livestock feed on contaminated pasture, hay or grain.
She said farms bordering rural townships are most at risk from the diseases as there is a greater population of domestic and feral cats to spread them.
“But all farms are at risk, as any cat that roams and scavenges can contract the diseases – recent data collected from a Tasmanian abattoir detected sarcocystis in 13.7 percent of carcases.”
Tasmanian farmers can trap and destroy feral cats
Kingborough Council cat management officer Kaylene Allan said under Tasmania’s Cat Management Act 2009, primary producers are now allowed to trap and humanely destroy cats on their property.
“That’s why an important part of our cat management strategy is to work with the wider community.
“We don’t want healthy domestic cats to be affected and we have to work together to reduce the feral cat population by stopping movement between regions, which fuels the cycle of disease.”
The Farmer Forum is an initiative of the Kingborough Council, and supported by the Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN), will educate producers on cat-borne diseases. LBN is currently running similar events across Australia.
Bruny Island cat management strategy coming
Ms Allan is currently developing a cat management strategy for the island that will achieve the best outcomes for cats, wildlife, public health and neighbourly relations. Bruny Island has high conservation significance and is home to many species likely to be adversely impacted by cats. Ms Allan said she is working with the local community and council to develop the cat management strategy.
“It will guide effective cat management on Bruny Island to help minimise the impact of cats on biodiversity, agriculture, tourism and the community.”
LBN is an independent industry three-year pilot initiative by the Cattle Council of Australia, Sheepmeat Council of Australia and WoolProducers Australia funded by industry levies held in trust.
If you would like to attend the Bruny Island event, call Kaylene Allan on 07 6211 8255 or email [email protected]
Sources: Livestock Biosecurity Network, Kingborough Council
Feral cats carry thirty five or so parasites and diseases lethal to humans. Shoot them.