Invited Speaker Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting 2018

Veterinary Bacteriology in Queensland – a personal perspective (#93)

Pat J Blackall

Queensland (even ahead of the formation of the nation of Australia) had recognised the value of animal-based food industries and the sciences that supported those industries.  In this talk, an overview of selected key highlights of veterinary microbiology in Queensland will be presented.  The initial laboratory (the Stock Institute) was set up in 1893. The Queensland government had seen the success of the vaccination program for Cumberland disease – anthrax – in NSW sheep (a success that actually funded the construction of the Pasteur Institute).  In a move that is very typical of even modern Queensland, the decision was made to “pinch” the best available microbiologist from the slower moving southern colonies – Adrien Lior (the producer of the Cumberland Disease vaccine). The bold move failed, as Lois Pasteur had ordered the return of his nephew after the insulting behaviour of the colonies in failing to award the rabbit control prize to Pasteur and his “cholera” bacillus. The alternative selection as laboratory head – Charles Pound –proved an inspired selection. Pound quickly developed a remarkably effective Institute (with various names and locations) that undertook pioneering work in cattle and poultry diseases.  Pound remained in charge of the Institute until 1932.  The glory days of Pound were replicated a number of years later under the direction of Geoffrey Clive Simmons and a team of outstanding microbiologists – particularly Michael (Des) Connole and Jean Elder.  In this period, the Queensland laboratory worked on the recognition of new pathogens (Actinobacillus seminis), new serovars (Leptospira Serovar pomono) and the critically important V-4 variant of Newcastle Disease virus in chickens. While the number of veterinary laboratories in Queensland is now reduced to one, the work of that laboratory continues to support the animal and aquatic industries of Queensland.