Frequently Asked Questions
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a serious and highly contagious viral animal disease that affects primarily cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, lamas, alpacas, deer and pigs.
FMD virus is carried by live animals and in raw meat and dairy products, as well as in soil, bones, faeces, blood, untreated hides, and contaminated vehicles and equipment . It can also be carried on people’s clothing and footwear and survive in frozen, chilled and freeze-dried foods.
FMD is different to hand, foot and mouth disease which is common in young children. FMD cannot be transmitted to humans by eating meat or dairy products.
More information on FMD can be found on the department’s website.
A notifiable animal disease is one that must be reported to agricultural authorities when detected.
All suspected or confirmed cases of animals displaying signs of a nationally notifiable disease must be reported to your local veterinarian or your state or territory’s department of primary industries or agriculture via the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.
A sample would then be collected from the suspect animal/s and tested by a state/territory government laboratory, with another confirmatory test undertaken at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness.
Further details and the full list of nationally notifiable diseases can be found on the department’s website.
Test kits for any animal disease require a biosecurity import permit. For import conditions and to apply for an import permit go to the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).
There are currently three import pathways within the Test Kits BICON case which may apply to test kits for animal diseases:
- Nucleic acid amplification tests (e.g., PCR tests)
- Test kits testing for disease agents excluding pathogens of biosecurity concern (not applicable for FMD test kits)
Importers must have a valid import permit prior to test kits arriving in Australia.
The information required to assess the biosecurity risk of test kits for notifiable animal diseases includes, but is not limited to:
- Ingredients and volumes of all kit components
- Volume, species and source country of animal-derived ingredients
- Inactivation of disease agent components
Permit applications for FMD test kits (excluding most nucleic acid amplification kits) require highly detailed manufacturing information. If a permit can be issued for the kits, stringent documentation requirements will apply to each imported consignment.
Other Commonwealth regulations
Some notifiable animal diseases (e.g., FMDV, lumpy skin disease virus, African swine fever virus and Bacillus anthracis etc) are also regulated under the Security Sensitive Biological Agent (SSBA) Regulatory Scheme. For more information about the SSBA Regulatory Scheme, including a full list of SSBAs, please review the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website.
State and Territory regulations
All state and territory governments have restrictions that apply to testing animals for notifiable animal diseases, including FMD. These restrictions may limit testing to certain persons, and/or to within certain accredited diagnostic laboratories. Failing to comply with state and territory disease control or biosecurity legislation can result in heavy fines.
Anyone importing or intending to use a test for a nationally notifiable animal disease should ensure they have the required permissions from their state or territory Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) or other relevant government authority. Contact information can be found at the following sites:
- Australian Capital Territory - Biosecurity - Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate - Environment (act.gov.au)
- New South Wales - Animal biosecurity (nsw.gov.au)
- Northern Territory - Biosecurity | NT.GOV.AU
- Queensland - Biosecurity | Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland (daf.qld.gov.au)
- South Australia - Biosecurity - PIRSA
- Tasmania - Biosecurity Tasmania | Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (nre.tas.gov.au)
- Victoria - Biosecurity | Agriculture Victoria
- Western Australia - Biosecurity | Agriculture and Food
Each state and territory imposes different regulations for the use of on-farm or POC test kits for notifiable animal diseases, including FMD. In most cases, the use of POC test kits for notifiable animal diseases is not permitted.
To find more information please contact the relevant government authority in your state or territory (see contacts above).