Facial Eczema Updates:


Information released 5 January 2015

The recent warm, humid weather has increased the likelihood of facial eczema outbreaks in Gippsland this season. 

Pasture spore monitoring service

To help farmers manage the risk of facial eczema in their herds, Dairy Australia and GippsDairy will again support a pasture spore monitoring service across a series of sentinel farms in Gippsland. (Go to www.dairyaustralia.com.au/facialeczema for more details). 

Remember that early intervention is critical. When local pasture spore counts trend upward of 20,000 spores/gram and weather conditions look favourable for sporulation, each farm should monitor its own pasture spore counts week to week and implement facial eczema control and prevention strategies. Spores have already been recorded at low levels in pasture samples in December.

To ensure maximum reliability of pasture spore counts, a consistent approach to collecting pasture samples is required. The correct method is provided in Appendix A of the Dairy Australia document ‘A Review of Facial Eczema (Pithomycotoxicosis)’ (updated 2013). Spore counts on samples collected may be done at a number of veterinary clinics across Gippsland.

APVMA Emergency Permit issued for use of zinc oxide

Daily feeding of zinc supplements to dairy herds during high risk periods has been shown to protect them from the fungal toxin responsible for facial eczema. However the stringent regulatory conditions for the control of veterinary medicines in Australia require that treatments used in food producing animals are assessed and approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). Zinc oxide is an unregistered chemical which has led to difficulties in obtaining approved stockfeed medicated with zinc oxide. It is important to use high quality zinc supplements to avoid accidental exposure of cattle to heavy metal contaminants. 

Dairy Australia submitted an application to the APVMA for an Emergency Permit for use of pharmaceutical grade Umicore Zinc oxide as an aid in the prevention of facial eczema in dairy cattle. The application for the Emergency Permit was supported by the Victorian Chief Veterinary Officer at DEPI. The APVMA has issued an Emergency Permit to Dairy Australia for this purpose in Victoria, to remain in force from 24 Dec. 2014 until 30 Nov. 2015. (Permit no. PER80579). 

Persons who can use the product specified under this APVMA permit are stockfeed manufacturers, dairy farmers and veterinary surgeons acting on advice from the permit holder, Dairy Australia.

The permit refers to the Dairy Australia document ‘A Review of Facial Eczema (Pithomycotoxicosis)’ (updated 2013). The permit requires that the use of Umicore Zinc oxide Pharmaceutical BP must be conducted in accordance with the conditions contained within this document at a specified dose rate of 20mg elemental zinc/kg body weight/day (no higher or lower), and that the “Facial Eczema HACCP plan Hazard Analysis – zinc toxicity and heavy metal contamination” instructions contained within Appendix D of the Dairy Australia document are followed.

An APVMA Emergency Permit stipulates a supplier, whose responsibility it is to supply the product specified to those wishing to use it under permit, and retain all records of supply, possession and adverse experience reports relating to the product under the permit. 

For this particular permit (Permit no. PER80579), the product supplier is Debenham Australia Pty. Ltd., Leongatha. phone: 5662 5317. Email: office@debenham.com.au 

Debenham Australia expects to have the Umicore Zinc Oxide Pharmaceutical BP product with the approved APVMA supplementary label available for distribution at the end of the first working week of January. Debenham Australia will contact stockfeed manufacturers to confirm arrangements.

To download the Dairy Australia fact sheet “Preventing facial eczema in milking cows using zinc oxide in feed” (updated 2013), click here.

The APVMA permit document is available for download here with full details and conditions of the permit.

 Any queries regarding this APVMA Emergency Permit should be directed to Dr Robin Condron, Manager Animal Health and Welfare, Dairy Australia. Email: RCondron@dairyaustralia.com.au