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What is an EAD?

Veterinarians inspecting a suspect Hendra virus case
Photo: Simon Firestone, University of Melbourne

An 'Emergency Animal Disease' (EAD) is a disease of animals considered to be of national significance because of the impacts it may have on animal health, human health, the environment or the economy. EADs may have serious social or trade implications. An EAD outbreak requires an emergency response by government authorities. An EAD is defined as a disease that meets one or more of the following criteria1:

  1. It is a known disease that does not occur in endemic form in Australia, and for which it is considered to be in the national interest to be free of the disease
  2. It is a variant form of an endemic disease which is itself not endemic, caused by a strain or type of the agent, which can be distinguished by appropriate diagnostic methods, and which if established in Australia, would have a national impact
  3. It is a serious infectious disease of unknown or uncertain cause, which may, on the evidence available at the time, be an entirely new disease
  4. It is a known endemic disease, but is occurring in such a fulminant outbreak form (far beyond the severity expected), that an emergency response is required to ensure that there is not either a large-scale epidemic of national significance or serious loss of market access

Several other terms are used internationally in place of Emergency Animal Diseases or with overlapping definitions, such as Transboundary Animal Diseases, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Foreign Animal Diseases. Further detail on these terms is provided in the Glossary.