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Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD)

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD) cases have been confirmed in Indonesia and in July 2022, FMD was also detected in Bali.

Australia is currently free from FMD and LSD and our priority is to keep it that way.

It’s the Australian Government’s responsibility for protecting Australia from these diseases, and the industry is doing everything we can to support their work. We understand Australia’s frontline biosecurity officers are currently operating with increased vigilance across all flights arriving from Indonesia, including Bali.

The risk of these diseases is at the forefront of industry priorities. There is a very clear and robust plan in place. It’s known as the AUSVETPLAN and you can read more about it online here - Emergency response arrangements - Animal Health Australia.

MLA in conjunction with the Australian Government, is working closely with the Indonesian Government and Industry via a biosecurity support program to help control the spread of FMD and LSD in Indonesia.

Should either disease reach Australian shores, there would be a significant impact for our livestock industries, along with substantial trade impacts if Australia was no longer recognised as being free from FMD or LSD.

The cost of a disease incursion would also see severe economic losses to Australia’s agricultural sector.

Detection of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in Australian cattle exported to Indonesia

On the 30 July 2023 the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) were advised by the Indonesian Agriculture and Quarantine Agency (IAQA) that lumpy skin disease (LSD) has been detected in a small number of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia—after those cattle had arrived and spent some time in Indonesia. Australia is and remains free from lumpy skin disease, as confirmed by Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer on 30 July 2023.

Find out more

1. Watch back an industry webinar held on 31 July 2023 with updates from the Chief Veterinary Officer and the Minister for Agriculture in response to Australian cattle testing positive to LSD after spending time in Indonesia.

2. Read this statement provided by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on the 30 July 2023.

3. Read this joint statement from the Red Meat Advisory Council and the National Farmers’ Federation regarding live cattle exports to Indonesia.

4. Click here to find out what lumpy skin disease is, key facts and what signs to look for in cattle.

MLA’s role

MLA is an active member of the industry taskforce working on planning and preparedness.

MLA’s role as the marketing and research service provider for the red meat industry, is to support the industry taskforce with technical expertise and investment in potential prevention and treatment solutions against both diseases, including mRNA vaccines.

We know that our members’ livelihoods depend on maintaining our disease-free status and it’s the reason we are working tirelessly with industry and government to collectively strengthen our approach to a potential disease outbreak.

Australia’s biosecurity wall

From foot mats to detector dogs, passengers travelling to and from Indonesia are now exposed to more than 20 biosecurity touchpoints to protect Australia from exotic animal diseases. In this video produced in partnership between the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and MLA, industry representatives explain how the measures are working.

Your questions answered

To help Australian producers understand FMD/LSD and their impacts – as well as what’s being done to prevent them from entering Australia – MLA has compiled some FAQs.

What is: a) Foot & Mouth Disease, and b) Lumpy Skin Disease?

Foot and Mouth Disease: FMD is a highly contagious animal disease that affects all cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, sheep, goats, camelids, deer and pigs. Symptoms may include fever, drooling, reluctancy to move and blisters on the mouth, snout, tongue, lips or hooves. For more information, visit Animal Health Australia’s FMD page.

Lumpy Skin Disease: LSD is a contagious viral disease that affects cattle (both beef and dairy) and water buffalo. Symptoms may include discharge from the eyes and nose (usually observed first), decreased milk yield in lactating cattle, high fever, firm skin nodules 2–5cm in diameter, loss of body condition and death. For more information, visit Animal Health Australia’s LSD page.

How would an outbreak of these diseases in Australia affect our industry?

Foot and Mouth Disease: A 2013 ABARES report estimated an FMD outbreak would result in severe direct economic losses to the livestock and meat processing sector over a ten-year period. These losses ranged up to $52 billion over 10 years at a 7% discount rate.

An update to this estimate conducted in 2022 found the same large multi-state outbreak would now have a direct economic impact of around $80 billion (in 2020–21 dollars and with a 3% discount rate).

Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2022: FMD consequences

Lumpy Skin Disease: If lumpy skin disease occurred in Australia, the objective would be to eradicate it as quickly as possible. This would involve humane destruction of infected animals, vaccination, the disinfection of infected properties and a vector control program. Australia’s Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN) contains the nationally agreed approach for the response to an outbreak of lumpy skin disease in Australia.

In the event of an outbreak of lumpy skin disease in Australia, the trade implications would be difficult to predict with certainty as such issues are highly situational and would vary across markets.
If commodities require certification that Australia is free from lumpy skin disease, those exports would be temporarily suspended while health certification requirements are renegotiated.

Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2022: Lumpy Skin Disease

What is MLA doing to ensure Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) don't reach Australian shores?

MLA, in conjunction with the Australian Government, is working closely with the Indonesian Government and industry via a biosecurity support program to help control the spread of FMD and LSD in Indonesia. The program involves on-the-ground support from the Australian red meat industry to improve the Indonesian feedlot sector’s emergency response to these diseases. It will also enable longer term biosecurity capacity of the Indonesian feedlot sector to continue to operate with minimal disruption.

The Red Meat Advisory Council has also activated the red meat and livestock industry’s crisis management process. This led to the formation of a high-level cross-industry taskforce to ensure coordination and collaboration across all affected industry sectors. The taskforce meets weekly and comprises senior representatives from the Red Meat Advisory Council, the National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Dairy Farmers, and their respective industry service providers, including MLA.

MLA plays a key supporting role to the taskforce by providing technical advice via subject matter experts across the following four committees:

  1. Overseas in-country support – to develop proposals for providing support to Indonesia and other neighbouring countries in their mitigation and management of FMD/LSD and to contribute to proposals for FMD/LSD support in overseas markets put forward by other parties.
  2. Trade and protocols – to undertake specific market risk analysis and market prioritisation and determine protocol and health certificate needs, both pre-emptive and reactive.
  3. Domestic containment strategy – to develop effective strategies to inform the containment and management of the spread of FMD/LSD should they arrive in Australia, complementing existing processes and plans, such as AUSVETPLAN, as well as other work being developed. This includes:
  • vector control
  • containment lines and zoning
  • quarantine
  • eradication and disposal
  • food safety
  • transport and movement
  • response capacity and capability.
  1. LSD diagnostic capability and vaccine development – to develop strategies for the development of diagnostic capability and vaccines to diagnose, prevent and manage the spread of LSD, should it arrive in Australia.
How will Australia approach a FMD vaccination program should the need arise?

Animal Health Australia (AHA) manages Australia’s FMD vaccine bank on behalf of governments and industry. The contract specifies that should doses of the chosen FMD vaccine strain be requested they will be delivered within seven business days. AHA have compiled an extensive list of key questions which explain how Australia may approach an FMD vaccination program.  For more information, visit Animal Health Australia’s role of vaccines in Australia’s FMD preparedness page.

What producers can do

All livestock producers can do now is be prepared, vigilant and on the lookout.

Good biosecurity practices and early detection will be essential to reduce the potential impact of FMD or LSD, should either arrive in Australia.

Producers are urged to exercise vigilance on-farm by:

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