What we’re doing to prevent LSD
Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is becoming established in more countries, which increases the risk of an incursion in Australia.
We are monitoring the global spread of this serious disease and have been proactive in strengthening measures at our international border. We also continue to review our preparedness and response strategies.
Biosecurity conditions are in place to prevent exotic animal pests and diseases from entering Australia with incoming air and sea passengers, imported cargo and mail items.
Other requirements are in place for when people or goods arrive in Australia, such as sanitisation mats at airports for passengers arriving from Indonesia.
Our strict livestock importing protocols offset the risk of exotic disease incursions. Returning livestock vessels are managed by our biosecurity officers.
We review import conditions when the level of risk changes. However there are also potential natural entry pathways for LSD (e.g. insect movement or windborne spread of insects).
Surveillance across Australia’s north
The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) collaborates with state and territory governments. Together they undertake targeted surveillance activities for exotic animal diseases like LSD across Australia’s north. NAQS also raises public awareness through the Indigenous ranger network, to support early detection of exotic animal diseases.
The Northern Australia Biosecurity Surveillance Network (NABSnet), established in 2018, supports private veterinarians working in northern Australia. NABSnet conducts quality investigations into significant disease events, particularly in cattle.
The Northern Australia Biosecurity Strategy 2030 (the Strategy) was developed to respond to the increased biosecurity risks and rapid changes in northern Australia that required a more collaborative and integrated biosecurity system. The Strategy sets out key biosecurity objectives and priority actions for this unique region.
Improving our understanding of the risks of LSD incursions via non-regulated pathways
In 2022, the department engaged global epidemiology consultant Ausvet, to undertake work to improve our understanding of the risk of LSD entering Australia via non-regulated pathways. Ausvet undertook this work in stages starting with a literature review, a qualitative assessment and a quantitative assessment.
How we would respond to an incursion
The nationally agreed policy is to eradicate LSD in the shortest possible time, while minimising social, economic, animal welfare and environmental impacts. Details are in the Lumpy skin disease AUSVETPLAN Response Strategy which sets out the agreed approach on how we would respond to this disease.
Australia has well developed and tested emergency animal disease response arrangements in place. If LSD is detected, these arrangements will be triggered with a view to eradicating the disease. The Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases (CCEAD) will meet and review the technical Response Plan developed by affected state and territory governments. This committee involves each state and territory chief veterinary officer, technical experts and representatives from affected industries – as listed under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA).
In the meantime, the state/territory biosecurity authority will work closely with the owners/handlers of the infected animals. The property would be quarantined with movement restrictions placed on animals, products and possibly vehicles moving off the property.
More information on how we respond to outbreaks.
The role of vaccination
Vaccinating animals prior to an LSD incursion is not a viable option because it would have a significant impact on our access to export markets. This is because Australia could no longer claim to be free of the disease in accordance with the World Organisation for Animal Health requirements.
In June 2023, an LSD vaccine supply agreement was signed to ensure an initial supply of LSD vaccine will be available for Australia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea, if required. The doses are being held in a secure overseas location.
The agreement means we will have priority access to a high-quality vaccine that can be used quickly to protect Australian animals if we need to respond to an outbreak, or can be used overseas to reduce the risk to our near neighbours.
More information is available in Minister Watt’s media release.
National Lumpy Skin Disease Action Plan
On 13 October 2022, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry released the National Lumpy Skin Disease Action Plan. The plan has nationally agreed priorities for actions to strengthen Australia’s preparedness, for a potential LSD incursion.
More information on the National Lumpy Skin Disease Action Plan.