What is foot-and-mouth disease and why Australia should be concerned
Such is the concern, the federal government is spending millions of dollars trying to fight the disease in Indonesia so that it does not reach our shores. And Australians are encouraged to throw away the shoes they wore in Indonesia before boarding flights to reduce the risk of bringing contaminated soil home.
What is foot-and-mouth disease?
Although not a human health risk, people are often carriers of the disease. They most commonly spread it via their shoes, clothing, or nose, where it can survive for up to 24 hours.
A man inspects livestock in Lampung Province, Indonesia. Source: AFP / PERDIANSYAH/AFP via Getty Images
Australia’s chief vet, Dr Mark Schipp, told SBS News it could have “devastating consequences”.
“FMD is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily between many animals,” he said. “This is worrying in terms of trade impact, as any country with this disease is largely unable to export its animals and animal products.”
Why is Australia concerned?
On Wednesday an Australian delegation including Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt and Dr Schipp arrived in Indonesia to assess the situation and on Friday Senator Watt announced that the government would spend $14 million to try to control the disease. .
Farming family Mahlah and Ken Gray and their children.
Funding includes $5 million to support laboratory and diagnostic testing capacity building in Indonesia, Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea, as well as to support efforts on the ground in Indonesia and provide epidemiological data to model the likely spread of the virus in Indonesia and the region, Senator Watt said.
Another $9 million will go to 18 new biosecurity officers who will be stationed at Australian airports and mail centres, as well as detector dogs in Cairns and Darwin. Funding will also go to a new Northern Australia Coordinator to manage surveillance and preparedness strategies across the region.
What should I do if I return from Indonesia?
Travelers are also reminded to declare any items they believe to be contaminated, to avoid heavy fines. The number of biosecurity officers and detector dogs has also been increased.
“If someone comes back into the country and says they’ve been in contact with a dam or livestock, or have grain or meat products or any of the usual things you have to declare, then those passengers are also checked.”
Do I really have to throw away my thongs?
But some are calling on returning travelers to ditch their shoes altogether.
The National Farmers Federation supported the call by promoting the slogan “Throw away your thongs” on social media. He also prompted the move by offering a 30% discount on another pair if travelers film themselves throwing their shoes away.
What are footbaths and why doesn’t Australia use them?
“I’m glad to see that there are serious discussions underway, and would like to see policy in place very quickly to support keeping Australia free of foot and mouth disease.”
“We know a lot of people coming back from Bali don’t have closed shoes, and if they do, it’s UGG boots or sand shoes that are going to absorb a lot of the chemical from the footbath and that product chemical is quite corrosive.”
What could it mean if he arrived in Australia?
Any presence of FMD in a country also immediately terminates all international exports. Given that 70% of Australia’s agricultural products are exported, the estimated cost of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is $80 billion. Once a country is marked as having foot-and-mouth disease, it takes several years before trade can resume.
“The biggest problem in Australia is that it’s a big place and we have a lot of wildlife, and if they get into those populations we may not even be able to get rid of them and that’s our greatest fear,” he said.
What happened in the UK?
The disease decimated the economy, costing an estimated $13 billion. In the seven months it took to eliminate the virus, more than six million sheep and cattle had to be slaughtered.
Over six million sheep and cattle have been destroyed in the UK to control foot and mouth disease. Credit: Tom Stoddart/Getty Images
The UK’s National Farmers Union said most farmers were still unsettled by the events of two decades ago.
“The foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 was devastating to UK cattle and sheep farmers and will never be forgotten by those who lived through it,” he said.
What does this mean for farmers?
“Slaughtering entire herds would be heartbreaking.”
Daniel Cochrane says he would likely sell his NSW dairy farm if FMD took over his property. Source: SBS News / Amelie Dunn
He and his brothers run several dairies in Nowra on the NSW south coast and their businesses have survived drought, fires and floods.
“I couldn’t do it. I would have gone out. I think I would sell the farm.
– with PAA