Study on prevalence and impact of chronic Benign footrot in NSW


Footrot is an important endemic disease of sheep in Australia and the clinical spectrum varies from virulent and intermediate to benign forms. Virulent footrot is a notifiable disease in NSW, requiring implementation of a planned eradication program for the farm. As a result virulent strains of footrot are now relatively uncommon in the state. However, there are reports of a number of farms being affected with intermediate or less virulent forms of the disease, which are not notifiable but appear to have considerable economic and animal welfare impact. Very little research has been done to investigate the epidemiology and pathobiology of this form of footrot. This project will be conducted with the following objectives:  

  1. To estimate the animal and farm level prevalence of less virulent forms of footrot in NSW
  2. To identify risk factors for the presence of less virulent footrot in NSW
  3. To identify strains and serotypes of D. nodosus causing the benign form of footrot
  4. To measure the economic and welfare impact of the benign form of footrot
  5. To develop and test a vaccine for eradicating benign footrot from farms.


Dr Om Prakash Dhungyel, Associate Professor Navneet Dhand, Professor Richard Whittington

Research Location

Sydney School of Veterinary Science

Program Type



Approach: A random sample of farms in NSW will be selected for the study. Sheep from each farm will be selected using a systematic random sampling approach and clinically examined for the presence of footrot. A questionnaire will be designed and administered to enrolled producers to understand risk factors of the disease. Foot swab samples from clinical lesions will be collected and tested in the lab using microbiological and molecular microbiological DNA methods. Flock and animal level prevalence will be estimated based on lab results and strains and serotypes causing the less virulent form of footrot will be identified. Data from the questionnaire and the lab results will be combined to identify and quantify risk factors for less virulent footrot, particularly those which can be manipulated by sheep producers for better management and control of the disease on their farms. Economic and welfare impacts of the disease will be modelled. Flock specific vaccines will be prepared and tested in selected flocks. The efficacy of the vaccine in reducing the prevalence of less virulent footrot and eradicating the disease from these farms will be evaluated. This project will help better understand the epidemiology and pathobiology of benign footrot in NSW. Findings from the project will help refine policy for controlling and eradicating benign footrot on NSW farms and may guide development of national and international guidelines for managing the disease.  

Additional Information

Funding: This PhD project will be a part of NSW Sheep Industry funded University project.   Scholarship for student:  Student has to be eligible for APA scholarship with possibility of a top up of $5, 000 to 10,000 per year from other sources.  

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Benign Footrot

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2153

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