WormFax – the back story

WormFax NSW is (was) a service to NSW sheep producers and their advisors. It was a summary of WormTest results (in sheep) from around NSW.   I say ‘was’ because I am retiring (13/7/18) and the service will cease, at least for the time being.

The data for WormFax was supplied each month from two NSW-based parasitology labs: the NSW DPI lab at EMAI and a private lab located at Armidale in NSW. This private lab, formerly part of Veterinary Health Research, is now part of Invetus.

I am most grateful to Invetus (Amanda) and EMAI parasitology (Kathy / Angela / Tammy / Emily) for compiling this data each month and sending it to me. They did this for many years. This has been for the public good, not least for the benefit of primary producers and their advisors etc.

Wormfax (or at least notification (via WormMail) that it was available) was distributed to subscribers via email on a monthly basis. The data was posted on NSW DPI’s website: [ https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/about-us/publications/wormfax ]. At the time of writing, the WormFax page and data is still there (perhaps of interest for this wanting to do retrospective analyses?).

The summaries I prepared from the Excel sheets the labs sent me were called ‘WormFax’.  This started way back in the late 1980s early 1990s when I was a veterinary pathologist / research officer at the then Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Armidale (RVL-A) (on the site in UNE where Invetus-Armidale (formerly Veterinary Health Research), is now).
(By the way RVL Armidale, established in the mid 1960s, was the first country-based veterinary laboratory in Australia, if you discount the lab that was at the city of Townsville. The first OIC of RVL-A was Dr A (Alan) R B Jackson).
The OIC of RVL-A at the time (1980s/1990s), Dr Robert Coverdale, was keen to make better use of the parasitology data (‘value adding’) generated by the lab.  (Bob was the OIC after Dr Bruce Chick left the position and went on to work in the private sector, then eventually starting Veterinary Health Research).
And the local Dept. Agric.Veterinary Officer at the time, Dr Marcus Holdsworth, was keen to be involved.   The lab gave Marcus the (de-identified) data each month, and Marcus massaged the data into a monthly newsheet for farmers and advisers. This newsheet contained data summaries and trends and commentary.  The newsheet was sent out by fax initially (computers were just ‘happening’ in a bigger way); hence the name WormFax.   The other labs (e.g. RVL Wagga Wagga) followed suit, with their own versions of WormFax (but none of the other labs produced as much parasitology data as RVL-A. (The New England region of NSW is a hotspot for internal parasites   :-).
What’s been happening:
Using the data the labs supplied, I publicised each monthly edition of WormFax through the WormMail newsletter (email and web), and WormFax was uploaded each month to the WormFax page on the DPI website:  https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/about-us/publications/wormfax 
What now:
But, now I am retiring, there is no-one at present to replace me and take on Wormfax and other tasks.
All is not lost, however, as District Veterinarians see (at least some) WormTest results for their districts, and they report each month on what is happening worm-wise in the monthly ParaBoss News.
But to reiterate, I (and others) have very much appreciated Invetus and EMAI parasitology – and you as individuals –  doing this for me, and livestock producers and their advisors and suppliers.
Armidale, 11 July 2018