9 December, 2022
More vets needed if we get a local FMD spread
National authorities have been on high alert for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) since an outbreak in Indonesia in May spread to Bali.
While Australia has tough border and biosecurity
laws and proceedures, earlier this year FMD was dedicated
in imported meat products.
The disease would cause huge devastation to the
Australian livestock industry, if it was to spread in the
country. Like most industries in Australia, post-COVID
worker shortage and veterinarian burn-out, applies to
the veterinarian profession.
Gulargambone-based vet Dr Cathrine Borgen-
Nielsen (of Cross Country Vets) said FMD and ongoing
worker shortages are big concerns to rural vets.
“There’s just a massive shortage of vets at the
moment, especially in rural communities,” she said.
Having relocated from Queensland only twomonths-
ago to live on her partner’s farm in
Gulargambone, Dr Cathrine is now helping service the
“There’s been an increase in pet ownership because
of COVID — it’s gone up around 30 per cent — but the
numbers of vets have gone down, due to no vets being
able to come into the country.”
Dr Cathrine also noted that, unfortunately, most vets
will leave the profession after only five years.
“They’re basically very understaffed and overworked.
While it’s rewarding, it’s also a struggle.”
Working mainly with horses, dogs, and cats, Dr
Cathrine also treats sheep and cattle. With the dreaded
FMD now being on Australia’s doorstep in Bali, Dr
Cathrine said, that if we don’t start increasing the number
of vets available, battling an FMD outbreak could
become a major problem.
“We don’t really have enough
vets on the ground out in the country, which is where we
are going to be seeing FMD [if it spreads locally].
“There’s simply not enough vets to even determine
whether FMD is coming and spreading into the country!”
“This is a major problem because, if it
comes into Australia, that’s $80 billion of economic
losses over the next 10-years. A huge financial concern.”
For anyone considering becoming a veterinarian, Dr
Cathrine highly encourages it.
“It’s a very rewarding job and I love what I do every day. Every day is different, and that’s the best part, you help animals, and you help save their lives. Not every day is the best day, but that’s part of life. If you look at the bigger picture, it’s a very supportive industry to step into.”