THE Australian developed pain relief product Tri-Solfen is being used to great effect to treat a foot and mouth disease outbreak both South East Asia and Africa.
The distinctive blue gel is being spraying directly onto the painful FMD lesions found in an animal's mouth and on the feet by trained animal health workers.
Laos is the first country in the world to officially register Tri-Solfen as a treatment for FMD, following extensive trial work by the University of Sydney. Tri-Solfen is also being trialed in a number of African countries including Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda and Senegal.
The pain of the lesions make it hard for a animal to eat or stand to drink water. Up to 5 per cent of adult cattle and 20pc of calves affected by FMD in South East Asia die as a result of the highly contagious disease.
Allan Giffard from Medical Ethics, the Melbourne-based company which developed the product, said Tri-Solfen contained two local anaesthetics, lignocane and bupivivaine, plus adrenalin to stop bleeding and the antiseptic cetrimide.
"The product is designed to alleviate pain by rapidly numbing the area as well as providing a protective barrier over the wound, resulting in improved recovery rates and greater welfare for the infected animals," Mr Giffard said.
"The low pH of the formulation along with the potential viricidal action of the the local anesthetics may assist to eliminate the virus from the wound site."
After treatment with Tri-Solfen cattle are able to resume grazing after two days and the wounds heal within five days.
Peter Windsor from The University of Sydney oversaw the trial work in Laos funded by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and ACIAR, which identified Tri-Solfen as an effective treatment for FMD. Professor Windsor is now carrying out trials in Nigeria.
"Previously the treatment of FMD was restricted to antibiotics, which were not only ineffective but risked the development of antimicrobial resistance as well as being expensive for local farmers," Professor Windsor said.
"Importantly, use of a therapeutic that is inexpensive and has clear animal welfare benefits may encourage the reporting of clinical cases to authorities by farmers seeking a more effective treatment of their valuable large ruminant livestock or pigs.
"There was unanimous approval of the treatment with farmers of affected ruminants presenting their animals for treatment upon hearing that a new medicine was available.
"Access to a more efficacious and affordable therapy for FMD is a potentially crucial component in future control and eradication programs, particularly if it encourages reporting, decreases virus transmission and leads to substantial improvements in animal welfare."
Tri-Solfen was first registered in Australia and then New Zealand for alleviation of pain due to surgical husbandry wounds in cattle and sheep.