Farmers Call For Unity To Guard Against FMD

NSW Farmers
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The Balinese outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), a highly infectious disease that was cause for great concern.

NSW Farming Biosecurity Chair Ian McColl said it could cost Austrlaia $80 billion.

“Farmers have argued for stronger, sustainably-funded biosecurity systems for years,” Mr McColl said.

“This isn’t something that’s just happened overnight.

“What Australia needs is all levels of government and all members of the community to come together and keep this disease out.

“Fanning the flames of fear will not help one little bit.”

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, FMD is endemic throughout much of Asia and in most parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Mr McColl said there was a risk that trade or travellers to any of those countires could bring FMD into Australia which was why it was so important to have strict biosecurity controls at our border.

“Last week we saw FMD fragments detected that didn’t come from Bali on a tourist’s thongs, they came in meat products from Asia,” he said.

“Those people out there that suggested we need to slam shut travel to Indonesia don’t understand that would only give a false sense of security which could actually increase the risk of FMD coming from elsewhere.

“We have strongly advocated for the federal government to boost screening and put foot baths at our airports.

“The state government has boosted biosecurity funding, now it’s up to all of us to do the right thing and stop spreading fear and rumour.”

A map showing where FMD can be found around the world is available from the World Organisation for Animal Health https://www.woah.org/en/disease/foot-and-mouth-disease/#ui-id-2. Countries in grey are considered to have FMD.

Background

From World Organisation for Animal Health:

  • Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock that has a significant economic impact.
  • The disease affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed ruminants.
  • FMD is characterised by fever and blister-like sores on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats and between the hooves.
  • The disease causes severe production losses, and while the majority of affected animals recover, the disease often leaves them weakened and debilitated.
  • It is a transboundary animal disease (TAD) that deeply affects the production of livestock and disrupts regional and international trade in animals and animal products.
  • The disease is estimated to circulate in 77 per cent of the global livestock population, in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as in a limited area of South America.
  • Countries that are currently free of FMD without vaccination remain under constant threat of incursion.
  • Seventy-five per cent of the costs attributed to FMD prevention and control are incurred by low-income and lower-middle-income countries.

From NSW DPI:

  • The emergence and rapid spread of FMD in Indonesia has led to the implementation of heightened alert and screening activities at the Australian border by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • 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
  • It is critical that all livestock owners know the signs of FMD, and check their animals for them regularly
  • If you suspect FMD in any animal in NSW, report it immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline, 1800 675 888
  • Veterinarians undertaking FMD Field Investigations can submit samples to the NSW Animal and Plant Health Laboratories at DPI Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute for testing
  • It is recommended that people who have been in contact with FMD-infected animals or infected areas DO NOT visit Australian farms, livestock facilities, or handle livestock for at least seven days after returning to Australia.
  • It is critical that all livestock owners here in Australia know what FMD looks like, and that they check their animals regularly. If you suspect any signs of FMD it must be reported to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 or a local veterinarian immediately.

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