High alert as foot and mouth disease spreads through Indonesia
The discovery of viral fragments of foot and mouth disease on pork products in Australia is another reminder of the need for vigilance while this livestock disease rages in Indonesia.
While these fragments weren’t infectious, Will Halliday, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Senior Advisor for Biosecurity and Animal Welfare, says this was a wake-up call and highlighted the risk of this virus popping up unexpectedly.
He urges farmers to maintain good biosecurity practices and while the risk of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) arriving in NZ is still considered to be low, everyone needs to play their part in helping prevent FMD entering the country and spreading.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has stepped up its surveillance at airports and farmers are being asked to ensure they are familiar with signs of the disease, that all animal movement records and animal health declarations are up-to-date and preferably in electronic form and on-farm biosecurity protocols are being implemented.
“We also strongly recommend that farmers don’t invite visitors from overseas, particularly those from Indonesia, onto their farms for seven days after arrival. FMD is present in tourist hotspots such as Bali where cattle roam free and footwear and sports equipment could potentially carry the disease back to NZ where the consequences would be devastating.”
According to the Heilbron report written in 2020, the meat processing and export sector along with sheep and beef farmers, collectively generate over $12 billion of income for NZ annually. The sector is NZ’s biggest manufacturing industry and the second largest exporter of goods. It accounts for 92,000 jobs and $4.6 billion in household income.
B+LNZ is working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries on the FMD Taskforce to improve readiness for FMD in the unlikely event of an outbreak, but the organisation is also calling for the Government to increase surveillance and compliance activity around swill feeding regulations for pigs which is a well-recognised risk pathway if border measures fail.
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