Concerns: Save Rose Valley group members Allan Mackay, Ken Sandy, Debra Sandy and Peter Berriman fear a proposed abbatoir would increase the risk of Q fever.Rose Valley residents fear the risk ofQ fever will be ‘’amplified’’ if a proposed abbatoir is allowed to go ahead.
Save Rose Valley and Werri Lagoon group member Debra Sandy said along with a range of environmental concerns about the proposal –which goes before council next week –residents were also concerned about potential health risks.
Q fever is a potentially debilitating disease normally spread to humans byinfected animals. Humans usually get infected by inhaling bacteria-carrying dust contaminated by animal urine, faeces or birth products.
According to NSW Health abbatoir and meat workers are among the ‘at risk’ groups.
Several cases ofQ fever have been confirmed within the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District this year, with 190 cases across NSW.
Mrs Sandy said in 2013 Kiama Council rejecteda DA for the construction of an abbatoir on a Rose Valley Road property, determiningthe use was prohibited.
A subsequent planning proposal, by applicants Gerhard and Maria Baden of Schottlanders Wagyu, includes an abbatoir and a 60-seat, licenced revolving restaurant.
Kiama councillors sent theplanning proposal for “additional permitted” uses at the property tothe Department of Planning and Environment for a Gateway Determination, which they permitted in August.
A period of public consultation followed, and Kiama council willmake the final determination on Tuesday, after a public access meeting on Monday. If passed, the applicants would be required to submit a DA to council.
‘’We’re not against abbatoirs –they have to exist if people want to eat meat,’’ Mrs Sandy said.
‘’However they are a complicated business, and we have a range of concerns about this proposal’s impact on the environment, and potential impact on human health.
‘’We believe the risk of Q fever will be amplified by the existence of an abbatoir –and are concerned about the risk to the region’s population, which includes many elderly residents with chronic illness.’’
However in council papers, advice was provided byDr John House, of the University of Sydney who concluded:‘’the change in risk to human health posed by the proposed micro abattoir is minimal for all’’.
He said calving cows would represent the greatest risk for the infection –but animals entering the abattoir were typically not going to be pregnant, so were a ‘’lower-risk group’’.
Q fever is usually an immediate infection causing severe flu-like symptoms,but it can sometimes lead to a chronic, long-termillness affecting the heart and liver.
Antibiotics effectively treat the disease, however there is a vaccine available for high-risk groups.
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