Collaborative disease investigations

AHA manages the NSDI Program to facilitate investigation of significant disease events by non-government veterinary practitioners. The program also includes training of private veterinary practitioners in disease investigation to increase the level of knowledge, skills and confidence to investigate and report on disease events.

Significant disease events

Significant disease events are broadly defined as those clinically consistent with national notifiable animal diseases or diseases showing an increasing incidence and/or an expanding geographic or host range.

Where there is a genuine suspicion of an emergency animal disease, the relevant state/territory government department will lead and fund an investigation.

Please note: Where there is a genuine suspicion of a notifiable animal disease it is the veterinary practitioner’s legal responsibility to notify their state or territory animal health authority.

Notifiable diseases

Notifiable diseases pose a real threat to Australia’s animal health status so it is important to understand what is meant by a notifiable disease and what to do about it.

Notifiable diseases include:

  • any of the known exotic diseases
  • a variant (non-endemic) strain of an endemic disease
  • an endemic disease occurring in a severe outbreak form – meaning a response  is required to prevent an epidemic
  • a serious infectious disease of uncertain cause, which may be a new disease.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment maintains a national list of notifiable animal and aquatic diseases on its website which is regularly updated. Below are links to lists of diseases for animals and aquatic species.

Disease investigation subsidies

Disease investigation subsidies are available for field work (e.g. clinical evaluation and/or necropsy, collection of diagnostic samples), laboratory diagnostic work, and a follow-up field investigation, if required.

Eligible veterinary practitioners

Registered non-government veterinarians engaged in clinical veterinary medicine – including veterinary practitioners in university clinics, zoos and wildlife parks – are eligible to participate in the program.

For further information about participating in the program for livestock disease events please visit your relevant government web page.

For further information about participating in the program for wildlife disease events, please visit Wildlife Health Australia’s NSDI Program page.


Necropsy and sample collection

A thorough necropsy and appropriate sample collection is essential for the diagnosis of important diseases in livestock. This instructional video contains information on personal protective equipment, necropsy technique including brain examination for sheep, and sample collection, storage and handling. The video was funded by the National Significant Disease Investigation Program, with assistance from Local Land Services, NSW Department of Primary Industries and the veterinary pathology laboratory at Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute. Warning: this video shows a necropsy being undertaken.