An­i­mals can also spread pests and diseases, so it’s im­por­tant to be aware of these risks, writes DR ERICA STEPPAT

Gardening Australia - - BIOSECURITY -

Mostly, pets can travel freely within Aus­tralia. Of course, there are re­gional risks to your pets, such as paral­y­sis ticks on the east coast of Aus­tralia, and heart­worm in most parts of the coun­try. Spi­ders and snakes also present a dan­ger, but if your dog, cat, rab­bit or guinea pig is bit­ten by a fun­nel-web spi­der, it will be just fine, as they are im­mune to the venom. But when it comes to the risk of spread­ing pests and dis­ease, jet­ting around the coun­try with your pet is care­free, ex­cept for a few re­stric­tions.

Rab­bits are il­le­gal in Queens­land be­cause they breed like, well, rab­bits, and they de­stroy land by dig­ging their bur­rows. Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Fish­eries Queens­land, rab­bits are “Aus­tralia’s most de­struc­tive agri­cul­tural and en­vi­ron­men­tal in­tro­duced pest”, and break­ing the ‘no rab­bits’ law car­ries fines of up to $30,000. So, while they may not un­der­stand, Peter Rab­bit and Flopsy won’t be able to go with you if you travel up north.

Dogs can some­times be in­fected with hy­datids, a type of tape­worm that has zoonotic po­ten­tial, mean­ing it can also in­fect hu­mans. It forms cysts through­out the body, and the only avail­able treat­ment is life-long re­peated surgery to re­move the cysts. It is a hor­ren­dous dis­ease. Sheep and dogs are both part of the worm’s life cy­cle, so if your dog is trav­el­ling or spend­ing any time on a sheep prop­erty, reg­u­lar worm­ing for hy­datids is an ab­so­lute must.

In an ef­fort to re­main hy­datid-free, Tas­ma­nia has placed re­stric­tions on dog own­ers vis­it­ing the state with their pets. Be­fore a dog can travel to Tas­ma­nia it must be wormed for the Echinococ­cus gran­u­lo­sus tape­worm by a vet, who needs to also pro­vide a let­ter as proof of the worm­ing.

If you are con­sid­er­ing bring­ing an an­i­mal into Aus­tralia from over­seas, you need to com­ply with Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources im­port con­di­tions, de­signed to stop the in­tro­duc­tion of diseases such as ra­bies into the coun­try. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 1800 900 090 or visit agri­cul­ture.com.au and search ‘bring­ing pets to Aus­tralia’.

Ed­u­cat­ing our­selves about po­ten­tial risks and taking ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion is vi­tal if we are to pre­vent the spread of de­struc­tive pests and diseases.

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