When returning to Australia after travelling overseas or when welcoming overseas visitors, good hygiene is essential to minimise the risk of introducing an exotic pest or disease.
Australia is fortunate to be free of many pests that hamper production in other countries around the world. If you, or a visitor, travel to rural properties or agricultural areas overseas, there is a risk that you could spread pests on your return.
Whether you are holidaying overseas, undertaking training activities on-farm, or part of a trade delegation, great care should be taken not to introduce exotic diseases to Australia on your return. The risk is greater if you visit:
You don’t even need to bring items back with you to risk introducing a new pest to Australia. Pests and disease agents can hitch a ride on the things you are wearing. Weed seeds can lodge in clothes and shoes. Fungal spores can stick to clothes, hats, shoes, hair and personal items like watchbands.
Always comply fully with quarantine border restrictions. Declare any food, plant material or animal products that you are carrying to biosecurity officers when you arrive in Australia.
Wash clothes and clean footwear. Where possible, this should be done before you pack to return to Australia, otherwise immediately on your return before making contact with your crops or livestock. Footwear should be disinfected where possible using a disinfecting agent, diluted bleach or an alcohol/water mix.
If you have been somewhere that poses a particularly high risk, such as an area you know is infested, consider leaving your clothing and footwear behind.
On arrival back in Australia wipe down non-washable items such as suitcases, camera bags, watchbands and belts with disinfectant. Remind family members, employees or others travelling with you to take these precautions too.
The Plant Health Australia website has information about the exotic pest threats of a wide range of plant industries.
If you see anything unusual, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881 or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.
For further information about what to declare when entering Australia visit the Department of Agriculture website.
Acknowledgement: Based on a fact sheet produced for the Grains Farm Biosecurity Program.