Foot and Mouth Disease Readiness

Australia is on high alert as Foot and Mouth (FMD) disease is sitting right on our doorstep. If FMD were to enter Australia, it would be catastrophic to our farming industries and trade.

Thankfully, strict biosecurity border controls have kept FMD out of Australia.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

Pigs are “amplifying hosts”, excreting very large quantities of virus from their breath. Animals can carry the virus for months or years after apparent recovery.

The hunting community, particularly pig hunters, should be able to recognise the tell-tale signs of FMD to alleviate mass outbreaks of the disease if it was ever too rare its ugly head in Australia.

In May 2022, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was reported in Indonesia. The spread of this outbreak into Bali was confirmed in July 2022.

The emergence and rapid spread of FMD in Indonesia have led to the implementation of heightened alert and screening activities at the Australian borders by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

  • It is critical that all livestock owners and hunters know the signs of FMD, and check their animals for them regularly.
  • Indonesia had been free from FMD since 1986, and the May 2022 detection brings the disease the closest it has been to Australia since that time.
  • The risk to Australia remains low in the absence of close contact between animals or the importation of infected products however the consequences would be severe.
  • If you suspect FMD in any animal in NSW, report it immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline, 1800 675 888

It is recommended that people who have been in contact with FMD-infected animals or infected areas DO NOT visit Australian farms, hunting areas or livestock facilities or handle livestock for at least seven days after returning to Australia.

A case study on wild boar in Bulgaria and dispelling the myths

In the report, Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Risks Relating to Wildlife – Scope, Gap Analysis and Future Priorities. For Australian Wildlife Health Network (Taronga Conservation Society Australia).

A simulation study of deer found they have no influence on the spread and maintenance of FMDV in wildlife. Wild boar could spread the infection successfully under certain climatic conditions: However, wildlife populations alone were not able to maintain the infection beyond the primary epidemic wave spreading once through the area populated by naïve susceptible hosts.

Thus, although epidemics could be produced where the infection affected a large share of the simulated population, no endemicity was observed. Accordingly, continued maintenance of FMDV cannot be expected from the wildlife host system alone, but cross-transmission between wildlife sub-populations due to human movement or cross-transmission from the domestic sector would be needed for the continued circulation of the virus in the wild. (Lange 2012)

We can only hope our strict border protection mechanisms remain to keep Australia FMD free.




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