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Beyond the Bale : April May 2009
20 AnIMAL HeALTH April – May 2009 Beyond the Bale Diazinon wet dips illegal as of May 2009 A ban on dipping sheep in diazinon comes into effect in May 2009, bringing a range of alternative treatments to the forefront in the battle against lice By Dr Gio Braidotti Authority (APVMA) determined that diazinon wet dips and jetting pose an unacceptable health risk to humans and suspended diazinon’s registration for this particular use. To avoid unnecessary hardship, a two- I year exemption was also introduced for diazinon manufactured prior to May 2007. However, this exemption expires in May 2009 when the blanket ban takes effect. AWI’s Jane Littlejohn says that while APVMA regulates pesticide manufacturers and resellers through their approval of product labels, each state has responsibility for how the chemical is used on-farm. To better understand the ban’s implications for woolgrowers, Jane has audited state and federal legislation. “Some states have their own stand-alone pesticide legislation, while others adopted the APVMA code,” she says. “However, in this case all states fall into line: as of May 2009, diazinon wet dips are illegal as a plunge, spray or jetting application.” Other uses on sheep, such as wound dressing and treatment of struck sheep, or as a backliner, or APVMA-approved submersible cage dips, are permitted. That t has been two years since the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines means diazinon continues to be available beyond May 2009, including in 20-litre containers, for use on cattle, pigs and goats. South Australian representative for the Livestock Contractors Association, Peter Jacka, says the drums are primarily intended for the northern cattle industry. However, their ongoing availability in the south may have created the impression that exempt product is still available for purchase for use on sheep. “In fact, the exemption only ever applied to diazinon manufactured before May 2007,” Peter says. “After 2007, the label on diazinon no longer provides plunge instruction and mixing rates. It is illegal to use chemicals against the label and this is when states can prosecute – even before May 2009.” However, the risk of prosecution for using diazinon off-label is not the contractor’s only concern. “If there are problems following dipping with off-label diazinon – if we go out and dip 10,000 sheep and half of them die – our public liability would not stand up,” Peter says. “At $100 a head for a good ewe, that is an unacceptable risk for us. Similarly, if a shearer gets crook on a property where diazinon was used off-label, the farmer hasn’t got a leg to stand on.” Lice control beyond May 2009 AWI’s program manager for animal APVMA’s suspension of diazinon registration is based, in part, on evidence of neurological effects on humans, says AWI’s Jane Littlejohn. APVMA found that high levels of exposure are implicated in causing headaches, dizziness, weakness, vision problems and anxiety. Higher levels produce nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, slow pulse, difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness. She says one of the concerns leading to diazinon’s suspension involved the impacts on shearers from residues on longwool sheep dipped too close to shearing. These residues can expose shearers to dangerous levels of the chemical. health and welfare Dr Johann Schröder says APVMA’s decision was not taken lightly and ways to avoid the suspension were explored. When it became clear that a ban was unavoidable, AWI co-funded research to prove that the submersible cage dip process could provide sufficient operator safety, and registration for this application has been retained through a permit system. “Individual operators of submersible dips can approach APVMA to seek a permit for diazinon use,” Dr Schröder says. “One operator has already succeeded in proving his gear’s safety and APVMA has The only avenue for continuing with diazinon dips for sheep is a provision aimed at operators of submersible cage dips to apply for a special permit. One such permit has recently been renewed. There is no provision for the permit system to accommodate plunge dips, even if performed under chemical safety conditions. In response, Peter’s company, Mallee Dipping and Mulesing, has made the shift to alternative pesticides and is already familiar with their performance profiles. He says the main difference is the price. At about $800 for alternatives such as temephos or spinosad, the cost is about four times the price of a 20L drum of diazinon. The challenge, he says, is to make each application of these last longer. “The secret is to treat at the right time and do everything as recommended on the label,” Peter says. “That usually means shearing the entire flock and dipping them within a fortnight. And there are benefits to passing on information about treatment, including whether the chemical used kills on contact or inhibits growth over weeks.” He also encourages his clients to shun the lice stigma and communicate their flock’s lice status and treatments with neighbours, while bolstering on-farm biosecurity, if budgets permit, especially fencing and keeping new animals separate from the flock for the recommended period. More information: APVMA, 02 6210 4700; Livestock Contractors Association (LCA), 0427 552 225, firstname.lastname@example.org renewed that permit early this year.” As the ban takes effect, the frontline defence against lice is expected to be two alternative chemicals that kill on contact and are available as dips: temephos (Assassin® by Cooper and Wham® by agVantage) and spinosad (Extinosad® from Elanco Animal Health). Diazinon is still registered for use in sheep as a backliner (Eureka Gold®). AWI’s free internet decision-support tool LiceBoss® (www.liceboss.com.au) can help growers determine the need for treatment, select a cost-effective control option, minimise residues and compare chemical options.
February March 2009
June August 2009