If your livestock are showing signs of foot-and-mouth disease, immediately call the
Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888
(free call within Australia)
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. An incursion of the virus would have severe consequences for Australia’s animal health and trade.
In May 2022, an outbreak of the virus was reported in cattle in Indonesia and in July 2022 the disease spread into Bali. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has implemented a number of urgent measures to reduce the risk of FMD entering Australia. These measures include:
- Assistance offered to Indonesian authorities to combat and contain the outbreak. We have offered advice from Australian technical experts, supply of vaccines and offers of financial support. This is in addition to assistance already being provided to combat lumpy skin disease, which was recently detected in Sumatra.
- Reviewed import permits for animal products from Indonesia that may carry FMD and have suspended those of concern.
- Awareness campaigns to Australia’s livestock producers and agriculture industries, travellers and a range of other stakeholders. We are closely engaged with our livestock industries which we continue to brief on both FMD and lumpy skin disease.
- Stronger clearance requirements for travellers entering through our airports.
- Increased screening for risk goods coming through our international mail centres.
- Increased disease surveillance across Australia’s Top End (Western Australia, Northern Territory and north Queensland).
On 9 August 2022, a $10 million biosecurity cooperation package was announced to assist Indonesia as it responds to outbreaks of both FMD and LSD. The package includes:
- $4.4 million for the purchase of additional vaccines for FMD. This is on top of support already announced for Indonesia, which included 1 million doses of FMD vaccines and almost half a million doses of LSD vaccine.
- Technical and advisory biosecurity expertise to support Indonesia’s disease outbreak control measures.
- Support for Indonesia’s vaccine campaign through the provision of consumables including disinfectants and personal protective equipment, training for on ground staff and communications support.
- Seed funding and technical support to establish a fit for purpose national livestock identification system for Indonesia.
FMD prevention efforts
We have always screened passengers and mail arriving from FMD affected countries. Following the detection of FMD in Indonesia, and now Bali, existing measures have been strengthened and new measures were immediately imposed to protect Australia from an FMD incursion. These include:
- the introduction of sanitation foot mats at international terminals which will be mandatory for passengers arriving from Indonesia.
- the deployment of biosecurity detector dogs in Darwin and Cairns airports
- additional signage and the distribution of flyers at major airports, informing travellers of FMD risk and precautions
- expanded and targeted social media campaigns, informing travellers of their biosecurity responsibilities
- additional training of airport biosecurity staff
- enhancement of mail profiling and inspections
- additional measures including biosecurity officers boarding planes on arrival and playing a new biosecurity message on all inbound flights from Indonesia, reinforcing Australia’s strict biosecurity measures and providing FMD-specific advice to travellers.
- Eighteen new biosecurity officers will be deployed to airports and mail centres across Australia.
Our Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy works across Australia’s Top End to keep watch for exotic pests and diseases. The program’s effective Indigenous Ranger network works with local communities to encourage vigilance and reporting of pests and diseases.
The Australian Government has announced that a northern Australian co-ordinator will be put in place to manage the urgent development and delivery of effective surveillance and preparedness strategies across north Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Beyond its borders, Australia has invested heavily in building the capacity of countries in the region to combat diseases, including support for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Southeast Asia and China FMD Campaign (SEACFMD). This project involves the coordinated control of FMD by eleven countries in the Southeast Asia region. However, FMD remains endemic in most of these eleven countries.
Australia has offered assistance to Indonesia to contain and control its FMD outbreak. The Australian Government has committed $14 million in immediate funding to manage the increased threat of foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease. This is in addition to $1.5 million to supply vaccines in Indonesia and $500,000 to support industry-led assistance through Meat and Livestock Australia.
Campaigns are in place to advise travellers entering Australia about the FMD risk and what they must do to avoid inadvertently bringing the disease in on their footwear, clothing and other goods. People ordering goods online also need to be aware of what can and can’t come into Australia.
See more on the advice to travellers page.
The department along with state and territory governments and peak industry bodies have awareness and education campaigns in place for livestock and associated industries. The long running ’look, check, ask a vet’ asks producers to be vigilant and report any suspect symptoms to their vet to their state or territory agriculture department. These materials link to the Farm Biosecurity website which provides free tools and resources for producers to develop a biosecurity management plan for their property.
The degree of success in dealing with an outbreak will depend on the nature and extent of any outbreak. The early detection and reporting of any pest or disease is vital to reduce its spread, hence our ongoing message that biosecurity is the shared responsibility of all Australians.
Australia has an internationally recognised capability to deal quickly and effectively with emergency animal disease outbreaks. In addition, we have a good track record of successfully dealing with outbreaks of disease in its animal populations, such as the 2020 avian influenza outbreak. However, an outbreak of FMD could have dimensions significantly greater than anything we have had to deal with in the past.
FMD is a notifiable disease in all states and territories and suspected or confirmed cases must be reported to a veterinarian or the state or territory's department of primary industries or agriculture by phoning the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.
An FMD response will be immediate on receipt of advice of a suspected case. When FMD is suspected, samples will be taken for diagnostic testing. One sample will be tested by the state/territory government, and other will be sent for confirmatory testing to the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness at Geelong in Victoria. Meanwhile the premises will be quarantined and plans activated so the response can be initiated as soon as the results are known.
Australia has well practiced and documented response arrangements in place for emergency animal diseases (EADs), including FMD. These are nationally agreed between the federal, state/territory governments and peak industry bodies.
The Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Disease (CCEAD) would come together quickly, and consists of the chief veterinary officers from the Commonwealth, each state/territory, representatives from affected industries, and the CSIRO Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness. Animal Health Australia also attends meetings. CCEAD is chaired by Australia's Chief Veterinary Officer.
Under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA), this group provides the technical expertise during animal health emergencies, including how to contain, control and eradicate the disease, and the indicative costs of control. State and territory jurisdictions are responsible for developing an EAD response plan(s), which are provided to CCEAD for endorsement. These response plans would follow the FMD AUSVETPLAN disease strategy which sets out the nationally agreed approach if there was an FMD incursion.
Following CCEAD agreement, the EAD Response Plans are provided to the National Emergency Animal Disease Management Group (NMG) for approval. This group is responsible for supporting the response through national cost-sharing arrangements which are set out in EADRA. Animal Health Australia is the custodian of both AUSVETPLAN and the EADRA.
Read more about how we respond to outbreaks.
The length of time taken to control and eradicate the disease will depend on how long the virus has been present before it is detected and the degree of spread.
If there is a single point outbreak authorities should be able to isolate and eradicate the disease quickly. If the disease has already taken hold and spread across a state or over borders, it will take much longer.
An incursion of FMD disease would involve all levels of government. The on-the-ground response would be managed by the state/territory governments, with national coordination provided by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Other Australian government agencies will also have a role.
The AUSVETPLAN Control Centres Manual also describes the roles and responsibilities of participants.
There are many people across Australia experienced in responses to biosecurity emergencies. However, an FMD incursion will draw upon many resources which may become exhausted if we face a wide-spread, long-term response.
We are able to source experienced personnel through the National Biosecurity Response Team which has people who can be deployed into various Incident Management Team roles including Public Information, Operations, Planning, Logistics and Finance and Administration. The NBRT undertakes regular training through Animal Health Australia which also conducts training for veterinarians and industry groups.
The department provides ongoing support to build Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) preparedness skills. Trainees have included vets, industry and government staff from across Australia. They are ready to respond to incursions of FMD, LSD, sheep and goat pox.
The European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth disease (EuFMD)recently trained 40 vets and technical staff. Another 40 staff will undertake training in 2024.
Since 2012, over 300 trainees from across Australia have completed preparedness training.
The Australian, state and territory governments, and industry, conduct regular exercises to assess and improve our response plans and procedures.
In 2014 and 2015 a series of discussion exercises and field activities, called Exercise Odysseus, were held to enhance Australia’s arrangements for implementing a national livestock standstill in the event of an FMD outbreak. This was one of a number of exercises conducted using FMD as a scenario.
A number of Australian government agencies will be involved in Exercise Paratus during 2022-23. Paratus will be a series of desktop exercises that will look at how agencies will escalate, coordinate and use relevant legislation in an emergency animal disease scenario. The program will culminate with a major functional exercise in early 2023.
We are continuing our efforts to ensure Australia is well-prepared to manage the disease. In 2011, Mr Ken Matthews AO provided a qualitative assessment of Australia’s readiness to respond to the threat of FMD.