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As of May 2022, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has been reported in Indonesia. Australia remains free of FMD, and it should be noted that Australia has detailed, well-rehearsed FMD response plans and arrangements in place. Governments and industry’s preparedness is continuously reviewed. However, it’s crucial that livestock producers are on high alert and begin to put preventative measures in place now.
What is FMD
FMD is a highly contagious disease affecting cloven-hoof animals (those with a split toe, including cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, camels, pigs, and deer – horses are not affected). While animals can be carriers, the disease can also be carried in meat and dairy products, soil, bones, untreated hides, vehicles and equipment, and even on people’s clothing and footwear.
Signs and symptoms to look out for
Livestock may develop a fever, excessively drool, and may be reluctant to move.
These animals can suffer from blisters on the mouth, snout, tongue, lips or between and above the hooves on the feet. Blisters may be intact or ruptured, exposing raw tissue which is very painful.
What to do if you suspect an animal has FMD
Livestock producers must be alert for signs of disease in their animals. If animals are showing signs of illness that are consistent with FMD, this needs to be reported as a matter of urgency to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888 or to your local veterinarian.
People in northern Australia need to be particularly vigilant. Not only do they need to check their livestock but if signs are seen in feral pigs or water buffalo, immediate action needs to be taken.
The best defence for producers on the frontline is proactive prevention: All livestock owners should have stringent biosecurity measures in place on their property, including accurate records of livestock movement. Take the time now to implement or update an existing farm biosecurity plan.
Templates for a farm biosecurity plan can be downloaded at www.farmbiosecurity.com.au/toolkit/ along with many other useful resources. You should also ensure you have farm biosecurity gate signs in place around your property, these can be downloaded free in the toolkit area or metal signs can be ordered at www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au/product/farm-biosecurity-gate-sign-aluminum-medium/
To access more free farm biosecurity advice and resources visit farmbiosecurity.com.au