ANIMAL agricultural industries in Victoria need a response to the ongoing Q fever problem.
The disease places our workers at risk, and there is an effective vaccine.
However, at approximately $400 for the vaccination process, costs quickly become prohibitive, particularly in businesses with many staff, and we are calling on the government to help ease the burden.
Q Fever is a bacterial disease that is caught by humans via contact with infected animals, and causes flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, muscle pains, nausea, and fever and chills.
Some people also develop debilitating post-Q fever fatigue, which can last for years, preventing them from working and damaging their quality of life.
The costs to the agriculture industry are estimated at 1700 weeks worth of productivity annually, leading to millions of dollars in lost revenue across the supply chain.
The vaccine for Q fever is highly effective at protecting people from infection.
When used within the incubation period, the Q-Vax vaccine is 96 to 98 percent effective, and it is 100 percent effective if used prior to infection.
Immunity lasts a lifetime.
There was a National Q fever Management program in place until 2006, in which the Federal Government funded states and territories to provide the vaccine to groups at risk.
Q fever notification rates declined by more than 50 per cent in the period between 2002 and 2006.
However, since that success, a new generation of workers has come into the industry who have no immunity to the disease, and less awareness of the dangers.
The Victorian Farmers Federation ran a 12 month awareness program, and noticed an increase in calls about vaccination opportunities, but awareness is only part of the solution.
At the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria’s (UDV) 2017 annual meeting, our members passed a resolution to ask state and federal governments to provide funding for a state-wide program of pre-screening and vaccination clinics for dairy farming families and their employees, and list the Q Vax vaccine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The Federal Government has so far resisted industry calls to reinstate a National Q fever Vaccination Program, but UDV is determined to push for a greater level of protection for workers in our industry, and for other workers at risk.
Our health is not open to compromise.