Foot-and-mouth disease: what can you do to avoid being part of the foot-and-mouth disease problem?

Foot-and-mouth disease is upon us. At present, it is spreading in livestock in Bali and all over Indonesia. If he arrived in Australia, the consequences would be devastating.

In the worst case, billions would have to be spent on a national response and dozens of seriously ill cattle, sheep, pigs and goats could be culled.

Overnight, Australia’s international cattle markets would shut down.

An outbreak could wipe out more than $80 billion from the national economy. Livelihoods across the country would be threatened.

If that sounds like a problem to be dealt with by Australian farmers alone, it’s not. It is highly likely that foot and mouth disease could be introduced and spread unsuspectingly throughout Australia by members of the public.

Travelers from Indonesia are at the center of the government’s response to foot-and-mouth disease.(ABC News: Lucas Hill)

Over the past two years of the pandemic, many Australians have taken pride in the steps they have taken to “stop the spread” of COVID-19.

Now members of the public weary of restrictions again have a role to play in avoiding becoming part of the spread of a highly infectious disease.

The Australian government, the livestock industry and members of the biosecurity and scientific community are imploring Australians to take the risk seriously and avoid becoming part of the foot and mouth disease problem.

Warning: This story contains images that some readers may find offensive.

Are you going to Bali?

A swimming pool full of people drinking near a beach at sunset.
Foot-and-mouth disease has reached Bali.(Unsplash: Cassie Gallegos)

Foot-and-mouth disease does not exist in Australia. This is the provisional good news.

It’s been 150 years since he’s been here, but he’s never been closer.

With increased international travel and many Australians’ short-term winter vacation plans in full swing, one of the biggest dangers is the return of travelers bringing foot-and-mouth disease to the country from Bali.

Foot-and-mouth disease is spread between animals through their breath, through contact with the blisters, and through infected milk, semen, faeces, and urine.

a cow lying on the found in an indonesian farm.
Cattle suspected of having foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia. (Provided)

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It can also live on vehicle tires and can be carried on clothing and especially shoes.

Travelers do not need to have visited rural or agricultural areas to run the risk of coming into contact with foot-and-mouth disease. The incubation period of the disease is between 2 and 14 days, which means that it can survive on a pair of shoes for fifteen days.

Such is the severity of the threat that there are growing calls to ban travel between Bali and Australia – a move Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has brushed aside.

Instead, the Australian government announced a series of new measures this week, including the presence of a biosecurity officer on every flight entering Australia from Indonesia.

A message will be broadcast on planes specific to the threat of foot-and-mouth disease, while biosecurity surveillance will be reinforced at airports, including more detector dogs.

Other measures should be announced in the coming days.

Flip-flops debate on footbaths

Nationals leader David Littleproud is among those asking travelers returning from Indonesia to use foot baths with disinfectant at airports.

Minister Watt said footbaths would not be introduced at this stage – partly because passengers could take multiple pairs of shoes with them on holiday, and partly because of the footwear choices of travelers in Bali.

A black dog with a red coat with
Tourists will be greeted by biosecurity dogs at the airport following the detection of foot and mouth disease in Bali.(Rural ABC: Daniel Fitzgerald)

“The chemicals in footbaths are quite harmful to people if they come into contact with their skin. »

A narrow shopping street with stalls on either side
Australian travelers are starting to return to Bali in greater numbers. (Provided)

The minister said other options such as disinfectant mats were being considered.

Beyond any border measures, travelers are advised to take additional precautions before re-entering Australia from Indonesia.

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