A motion passed at the UDV’s annual conference urged both governments to pump money into a Victoria-wide program of pre-screening and vaccination clinics for rural communities.
“Q Fever is a serious disease and both governments need to recognise the impact that it has on our dairy farming families,” UDV president Adam Jenkins said.
“Around 600 cases of Q Fever are reported in Australia every year, but there could be many more because a large number of unrecognised cases go undetected, mainly due to lack of awareness of the disease, as well as cost concerns.”
Q Fever is carried by cattle, sheep and goats, as well as feral animals, and can be transmitted to humans.
It poses the greatest risk to people working with livestock, such as farmers, abattoir workers, veterinarians and animal handlers.
But Mr Jenkins said while reports of Q Fever cases remained steady across the country, many doctors in rural areas were not trained in administering the vaccine.
“Perhaps the greatest inconvenience for people needing the vaccination is that not all doctors are trained to give the injection,” Mr Jenkins said.
“This just adds up to an unreasonable cost burden on farmers who want to do the right thing by their employees and families by getting them immunised against the disease.”
Mr Jenkins said the UDV would also lobby the Federal Government to list the Q Vax vaccine on the federally funded Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to give farmers an incentive to vaccinate their workers.
“The current cost of the vaccine is around $400 and it’s worth getting inoculated when you consider last year the agriculture industry lost 1700 weeks’ worth of productivity due to Q Fever, but there needs to be a real incentive to encourage people to be immunised,” Mr Jenkins said.
“The federal government needs to list the Q Vax vaccine on the PBS so that people can receive a subsidy for the injection, because it is vital to be protected against the disease if you spend time around animals.”
The push by the UDV aligned with the VFF Livestock Group campaign – including industry workshops, preparedness toolkits and advertising – that aimed to promote awareness of the disease.