Our Work

 
O ne of the reasons our team loves working with Ausvet is variety. We are constantly challenged by different problems, species, cultures and contexts. We bring to these challenges all our professional skills, but more importantly the experience we have learnt elsewhere, and the combined knowledge of the whole team.

We are constantly learning, and love a new challenge. We address each new problem in a creative, innovative way, drawing on current world’s best practice but extending it to create better practice.

We provide a rich learning ground for the next generation of leading epidemiologists.

Ausvet works with industry bodies, government agencies and other organisations as well as independent scientists and professionals to jointly create powerful, innovative and fit-for-purpose solutions for better health.

We work around the globe, across all species, using our skills in epidemiology, sociology, international development and information management to create a healthier and more productive planet.

 

 

Terrestrial Aquatic Plant Human One Health

How we work

 

Across disciplines

Ausvet started life as a small group of highly skilled and experienced veterinary epidemiologists. As the company has grown, the challenges have grown with them. Many problems cannot be solved without accessing expertise from other disciplines.

Data is the raw material of many epidemiological activities, and often, it is either unavailable or poorly organised. Our IT team has grown out of our need for better data, and now enables us to develop world-leading national, regional and global health information systems.

Disease control programs, surveillance, data integration – at the heart, they all depend on people to make it work, and people are amongst the most complex part of the system. Our team includes sociological expertise to understand the needs and motivations of the hugely diverse people we seek to help.

We also have a wide network of diverse expertise to call on when needed for specific projects. The magic is in the mix.

Epidemiology

 

Information technology

 

Social Sciences

 

Flexibly and responsively

One size does not fit all

Ausvet implements a huge variety of projects. Sometimes it involves a few hours analysing a data set or reviewing a statistical model. In other projects we have teams of a dozen staff or more, working for multiple years, with frequent and sometimes lengthy on-site visits.

We adapt our approach to the work to meet the needs of the specific task, be it

  • to provide an individual consultant or small team for a high-level strategic review,
  • working from our base for a desktop study using video conferences to stay in touch,
  • running specialised training courses for a university or government department, or
  • managing and implementing large multi-year development projects.

Large teams

Major international projects

Small teams & individuals

Shorter, more focused jobs

Desktop studies

The answers you need

Training

Institutional or open to all

Our Expertise

 

Surveillance

Surveillance

Ausvet has implemented a large number of challenging and innovative projects in the area of surveillance, including

  • designing surveillance approaches to help eradicate the last pockets of tuberculosis from deer in Riding Mountain National Park in Canada
  • developing improved field techniques to collect a representative sample of oysters on Australia’s east coast, in order to prevent the movement of QX disease
  • designing field surveillance to evaluate the prevalence of brucellosis in post-war Iraq
  • assessing the value of different approaches to wildlife surveillance in Kenya
  • developing a strategy for improving early disease detection capacity across Australia’s remote North
  • designing surveillance strategies to help eradicate Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia from the Northern Communal Areas of Namibia, meeting OIE standards as well as the needs of tanshumant cattle owners
  • Assessing the level of iodine in Tasmanian children to evaluate the use of iodised salt in bread as a supplementation strategy
  • Development of a surveillance program for Banana Freckle in the Northern Territory of Austalia

We have been involved in research to develop new surveillance techniques, expert groups to develop global surveillance standards for the OIE, designing, implementing, analysing and evaluating disease surveillance.

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Research and Modelling

Research

Ausvet has been fortunate enough to either lead or be a partner in an amazing array of epidemiological research programs. Highlights include:

  • Participation by Angus Cameron and Evan Sergeant in the Danish EpiLab as visiting scientists. Their work, in partnership with Tony Martin, resulted in the development of the stochastic scenario tree modelling methodology to analyse complex surveillance to demonstrate freedom from disease
  • The Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre, where Ausvet lead the epidemiology research component and continued to deepen research in the area of analytical methodologies and risk-based approaches to surveillance to demonstrate freedom from disease
  • In partnership with ACIAR, Ausvet has implemented a number of research projects – for example, the development of practical field surveillance techniques in Thailand and Lao PDR to make reliable estimates of effective vaccine coverage for Foot and Mouth Disease, and to analyse the patterns and drivers of livestock movement between Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam
  • Research into the role of caterpillars in causing abortion in mares in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australa
  • Participation in the EU RiskSur project, to develop improved approaches to the evaluation of surveillance systems
  • Groundbreaking work with the Chilean salmon and trout aquaculture industry to develop an research platform that securely integrates health, production and management data for production companies, in order to identify risk factors for Piscirickettsiosis and sea lice.

As a result of our strong research performance, Ausvet staff have published over a hundred research papers, books and book chapters. Several members of the team have supervised masters and PhD students and acted as adjunct staff attached to different Australian Universities.

Modelling

Ausvet has sophisticated modelling skills and extensive experience – we aim to create models that pragmatically help address real world problems rather than seeking to capture the world in a black box. Our work has included:

  • Modelling the spread of FMD in Australia
  • Modelling optimal testing strategies for Tuberculosis surveillance in the United Kingdom
  • Modelling the spread of Culicoides midges and Bluetongue virus in Australia to create the world’s first dynamic zoning system for international trade
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Data analysis

Data analysis and epidemiological studies

The Ausvet team has advanced skills and extensive experience in statistical and epidemiological data analysis, including data from complex epidemiological studies, surveillance and disease outbreaks. Examples include:

  • Epidemiological analysis of production data to support Scottish aquaculture
  • Training in data analysis, including analysis of epidemiological studies, surveillance data, or interpreting the findings of diagnostic tests
  • Analysis of drug registration data
  • Analysis of over 60 Gb of health, management and production data from the Chilean salmon and trout aquaculture industry to improve disease management knowledge
  • Analysis of data on Early Mortality Syndrome in shrimp
  • Epidemiological support to the investigation of an outbreak of oyster mortalities in France, which led to the identification of Oyster Herpes Virus as the primary causal agent
  • Analysis of surveillance data to assess confidence in freedom of north-eastern Australia from Red Fire Ants
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Program Review

Since our foundation in 1996, Ausvet has reviewed programs, providing critical evidence-based analysis, combined with deep contextual understanding. Initially much of this work was undertaken in Australia, with reviews of government of combined industry/government disease control programs (such as the bovine and ovine Johne’s Disease control programs). Now Ausvet reviews programs and systems globally, including

  • A review of regulatory frameworks for aquaculture management in 6 major cold-water aquaculture countries
  • A review of progress with implementation of WTO’s Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS agreement) in ASEAN
  • Reviewing Canada’s approach to risk-based surveillance

Policy and Strategy

Ausvet is regularly called on to provide critical science-based advice for policy development and health strategies. Examples include:

  • Development of a business case for animal health data sharing in Australia
  • Development of a strategic plan for the export of race horses from South Africa while managing the risk of African Horse Sickness
  • Development of a strategic plan for the control of Bovine Johne’s Disease for Animal Health Australia
  • An exploration of the concept of containment zones and their application by major exporting countries to minimise trade impacts after an outbreak while preventing disease spread
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Information Systems and Data Integration

Information Systems

Leading specialists in the field of information system design, creation and management, Ausvet has designed and implemented a number of customised systems for a wide range of private, industry and government clients. Using scalable architecture for deployment of animal, livestock and human information systems, these systems have ranged from tracking individual health status of abattoir workers around Australia, tracing animal and livestock product movements throughout mainland Southeast Asia through to global solutions.  We have our own AWS Certified Solutions Architects.

NATIONAL ANIMAL HEALTH INFORMATION SYSTEM (NAHIS)
https://nahis.animalhealthaustralia.com.au

The National Animal Health Information System provides timely and accurate summary information on Australia’s animal health status to support trade in animal commodities and meet Australia’s international reporting obligations. It also provides information on Australia’s capabilities and activities with regard to animal disease surveillance and control.

INDONESIA’S INTEGRATED ANIMAL HEALTH INFORMATION SYSTEM (ISIKHNAS)
https://www.isikhnas.com and https://wiki.isikhnas.com 

iSIKHNAS is Indonesia’s integrated real-time information system for collecting, managing, reporting and using data to support animal health and production. Watch a short video about the system here.

AUSTRALIAN Q FEVER REGISTER
https://www.qfever.org

The Australian Q Fever Register has been established by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to assist users to determine the Q Fever immune status of an individual, to prevent unnecessary testing, and to minimise the risk of exposing susceptible individuals to the organism in the workplace. The Register was designed, developed and was managed by Ausvet Animal Health Services on behalf of the Australian Meat Processing Corporation from 2001 to 2018.

NATIONAL ARBOVIRUS MONITORING PROGRAM (NAMP)
https://namp.animalhealthaustralia.com.au

The National Arbovirus Monitoring Program is an integrated national program jointly funded by the livestock industries and governments to monitor the distribution of economically important insect-borne viruses of livestock and their vectors.

ENDEMIC DISEASE INFORMATION SYSTEM (EDIS)
https://edis.animalhealthaustralia.com.au

EDIS provides access to summary data collected from national endemic disease programs in Australia. It also includes a public register of properties that are currently listed with the Australian Johne’s Disease Market Assurance Program (MAP) as well as summary information about the National BJD Strategic Plan and the OJD Management Plan.EDIS was designed and developed by Ausvet.

NATIONAL BEE PEST SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM (NBPSP)
https://nbpsp.planthealthaustralia.com.au

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program was designed and implemented by Ausvet to improve post-border monitoring around Australia for exotic pests of honey bees. • Trade support, by providing technical, evidence based, information to support Australia’s pest free status claims during export negotiations and to assist exporters in meeting export certification requirements. The Program is essential to support the trade of packaged bees and queen bees. • Exotic bee pest and pest bee early warning system to detect new incursions, which greatly increases the possibility of eradicating an incursion, and limits the scale and cost of an eradication program.

THE WORLD ORGANISATION FOR ANIMAL HEALTH (OIE)’S WORLD ANIMAL HEALTH INFORMATION SYSTEM (WAHID)
https://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Wahidhome/Home

The WAHID Interface provides access to all data held within OIE’s new World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS).  Ausvet implemented WAHIS based on a design stipulated by OIE.

THE ASEAN REGIONAL ANIMAL HEALTH INFORMATION SYSTEM (ARAHIS)
https://www.arahis.oie.int

This system is intended for the use of authorised representatives of members of ASEAN countries, for the purpose of sharing timely information on livestock diseases, to improve regional disease control. To ensure the integrity of the disease information managed by the system, access is restricted by password. This system was designed and implmented by Ausvet with the cooperation of the ASEAN sectoral working group on livestock, and with support from the Australian Government (AusAID), OIE (head office in Paris, regional office in Tokyo, and regional coordination unit in Bangkok) and ACIL. The system builds on and extends the functions of existing regional animal health information systems, including the OIE’s South East Asian Foot and Mouth Disease campaign and the Animal Health and Production Information System for ASEAN (AHPISA)

THE AFRICAN UNION’S ANIMAL RESOURCE INFORMATION MANAGER (ARIS 2)
https://au-aris.org

The African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) is a specialized technical office of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission. AU-IBAR’s mandate is to support and coordinate the utilization of livestock, fisheries and wildlife as resources for both human wellbeing and economic development in the member states of the African Union. In order to achieve its objectives, AU-IBAR requires qualitative, complete and timely animal resources information for monitoring, planning and decision making. In line with its mandate and Strategic Plan, AU-IBAR developed an information system known as the Animal Resources Information System version 2 (ARIS 2), designed by Ausvet and implemented locally. The system’s goal is to help position AU-IBAR at the continental level, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) at the regional level and the Member States (MSs) at the local level as the core and reliable sources of comprehensive animal resources information in Africa.

Data Integration

Ausvet is passionate about how data, properly managed and combined, can transform health and production. Ausvet has been a leader in the the development of integrated animal health information systems, a process which draws on our whole team’s combined expertise of sociology, epidemiology and information technology. Much more than just in information system, data integration systems provide previously unimaginable power and efficiency for health research, surveillance and management. Examples of our integration projects include:

  • The Chilean salmon and trout aquaculture industries Research Platform, securely integrating full raw production company databases to provide a research tool with unprecedented depth and coverage
  • Indonesia’s national animal health and production information system, iSIKHNAS.
  • Development of a plan for an integrated One Health information system for remote Indigenous communities in Northern Australia
  • Pilot projects and workshops to learn about data integration for fish, poultry and swine in Canada
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Risk Analysis

Risk analysis

Risk analysis provides a structured framework for managing risk. It is core to the WTO’s SPS agreement, governing the global system of international movement of animal and animal products, but also informs national biosecurity systems, industry strategy, and individual producer decisions.

Examples of risk analyses and risk assessments undertaken by Ausvet include:

  • An assessment of the risk of movement of cloven-hoofed game into South Africa
  • An assessment of the risk of infection of horses in the control zone in South Africa with Africa Horse Sickness
  • An assessment of the risk of release and spread of Rinderpest virus from laboratories holding specimens
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Biosecurity, outbreak investigation, response and preparedness

Biosecurity

  • Contributing chapters to AusVetPlan, Australia’s well regarded emergency animal disease preparedness plan
  • Preparing a plan for the privatisation and improvement of the national animal and plant biosecurity system for the United Arab Emirates
  • A review of pre-border biosecurity for Australia
  • Preparing robust and affordable biosecurity plans for vulnerable small island states

Outbreak investigation and response

  • Assisting two state governments with the management of the response to an outbreak of exotic Equine Influenza in Australia
  • Undertaking the initial outbreak investigation of a high mortality outbreak of Koi and Common Carp in Java, Indonesia (shown to be caused by Koi Herpes Virus) and development of an emergency response plan for disease control
  • Development of emergency response plans for Rabies for Papua New Guneau and Timor Leste
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Training

Many Ausvet consultants are highly experienced trainers and regularly conduct training workshops in epidemiology and related fields. Our staff combine technical expertise and wide-ranging practical experience to offer you training that covers technical fundamentals and theory for any topic and that includes hands-on practical training to reinforce acquisition of knowledge and skills in our participants. We have run training courses in many countries around the world, ranging from introductory level courses to advanced and highly technical training.

Ausvet has a philosophy of interactive and active participation in training, so that courses have an emphasis on group discussion and group/individual exercises and activities.

Delivering flexible, responsive training has always been important for Ausvet, and for many courses participants are encouraged to use current work challenges or data sets as the focus of their skills development.  This approach leads to more rapid acquisition of skills as well as useful outputs.  Workshop content is flexible and can be tailored to specific needs and audiences or delivered as “standard” packages in 2-5 day workshops (or occasionally longer), depending on subject matter and content.

Example course outlines

Click on one of the topics below to see an example of a course outline.

Introduction to epidemiology
  • Overview of epidemiology
  • Patterns of disease and why they occur
  • Cause of disease and bias
  • Diagnosing and screening for disease
  • Measuring and comparing disease frequencies
  • Sampling from populations
  • Data collection and recording
  • Exploratory data analysis
  • Investigating disease problems
  • Planning epidemiological studies
  • Animal Health Programs
Introduction to Surveillance Systems
  • Reasons for surveillance
  • Definitions and classification of surveillance systems
  • Planning a surveillance system
  • Surveillance and tests
  • Measuring disease
  • Demonstrating freedom
  • Evaluating surveillance systems
Aquatic animal disease surveillance
  • Reasons for surveillance
  • Surveillance options
  • Sampling aquatic animals
    • Cages and ponds
    • Rivers
    • Static species
    • Oceanic species
  • Design and analysis of aquatic animal surveillance
Application of diagnostic tests
  • Understanding test characteristics
  • Aggregate (herd) test performance
  • Approaches to test evaluation
  • Prevalence estimation with imperfect tests
  • Pooled testing
  • Demonstrating freedom or detecting disease
  • Application of tests in other situations
Introduction to the R language and environment
  • Getting started
  • R packages
  • R expressions and syntax
  • R objects
  • Working with Vectors, Arrays and data frames
  • Inputting data and outputting results
  • Basic functions and operations in R
  • Exploratory data analysis using R
  • Basic statistics and data analysis in R
  • Conditionals and loops in R
  • Writing R functions and scripts
  • R graphics
  • Introduction to advanced R capabilities
Introduction to risk analysis
  • Risk analysis framework and terminology
  • Hazard identification, release and exposure assessments, consequence assessment
  • Risk estimation, consideration of level of acceptable risk
  • Risk evaluation, risk communication
  • Risk Management
  • Qualitative vs quantitative methods
  • Pathway diagrams
  • Introduction to quantitative risk analysis
  • Introduction to stochastic simulation
Field survey techniques
  • Introduction to animal health information and surveillance
  • Surveys and inference
  • Measures of disease
  • Sampling
  • Sampling in practice
  • Sampling sithout a sampling frame
  • Practical random geographic coordinates sampling
  • Introduction to survey planning
  • Prevalence surveys
  • Incidence rate surveys
  • Surveys to demonstrate freedom from disease
  • Data management
  • Analysing survey data
  • Presenting your results
Introduction to GIS
  • Installation and configuration of QGIS
  • Drawing maps
  • Introduction to GIS theory
  • Mapping with alternate data sources
  • GPS field data collection
  • Working with attributes – getting information from maps
  • Spatial operations (queries and joins)
  • Map projections, ellipsoids, map datum, and map units
  • Thematic maps
Analysis of complex surveillance systems for demonstration of disease freedom using stochastic scenario tree modelling
  • Purpose of disease surveillance
  • Concepts of freedom from disease / infection
  • Requirements for the analysis of non-random surveillance systems
  • Introduction to scenario tree modelling
  • Capturing risk and targeting in a scenario-tree
  • Expert opinion and other sources for parameter estimates
  • Stochastic modelling
  • Combination of components
  • Calculation of surveillance component sensitivity
  • Calculation of probability of freedom
  • Incorporation of historical surveillance data
  • Software for scenario-tree modelling
Clinical trials
  • Design of veterinary clinical trials
  • Introduction to statistical principles for clinical trials
  • Power analysis and sample size
  • Critical appraisal of the literature
  • Examples of trial design
Spreadsheet training
  • Introduction to Excel or similiar
  • Advanced Excel tips and tricks
Statistics
  • Introduction to statistical principles
  • Choice of statistical tests
  • Power analysis and sample size determination
  • Simple statistics: contingency tables, t-tests, ANOVA, regression
  • Introduction to linear models
  • Introduction to logistic regression
  • Introduction to poisson regression
  • Introduction to survival analysis
  • Introduction to STATA
  • Advanced statistics: multilevel modelling
Database training
  • Introduction to Access and SQL
  • Advanced Access and SQL
  • PostgreSQL / MySQL for national level databases
  • Spatial databases for Health Information
  • Web based database interfaces for national solutions
  • Using open source database solutions for performance
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Please get in touch

L1, 34 Thynne St (Block E Trevor Pearcey House, Traeger Court)
Bruce ACT 2617
AUSTRALIA

+61 2 6228 6200

contact@ausvet.com.au