Visiting expert showcases footrot vaccine

Footrot is a nasty and complex disease.

Estimated as a $10 million problem for New Zealand’s sheep industry, the infection caused major changes to the hoof, resulting in lameness and loss of production.

Dr Om Dhungyel from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney has devoted much of his career to footrot research.

Last week, Dr Dhungyel was in Otago, talking to farmers about footrot and a vaccine he has helped develop which is now on the market.

He has spent years involved with various footrot projects, including the development of strain-specific footrot vaccine technology.

That vaccine was used to eradicate footrot from the Nepalese and Bhutanese sheep flocks and was now being used in parts of Australia.

Originally from Bhutan, Dr Dhungyel completed an undergraduate degree in veterinary science from Kerala Agricultural University in India and worked as a veterinary officer in Bhutan for five years.

In the 1990s, he was awarded an FAO fellowship to undertake a postgraduate degree at the University of Sydney.

After completing those studies, he worked on an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research-funded project on footrot in sheep and goats in Nepal.

He successfully made a recombinant DNA footrot vaccine which was used to control and eliminate endemic footrot in that country.

He also worked on a similar project in Bhutan and on other footrot projects and research collaborations in India, China and Malaysia.