Foot And Mouth Disease Enters Australia: Airlines On Alert

Borders between Australia and Indonesia remain open, although the threat of Foot and Mouth disease to Australia’s biosecurity continues. Travellers are urged to remain vigilant when returning from high-risk destinations carrying the disease and to stay up to date with relevant advice and practices to keep the disease out of Australia.  

Fragments of the disease were detected earlier this week on an illegally imported pork product in Melbourne. The disease was not found to be alive but was a reminder of the impact and importance of the declaration at airports of items or places visited upon visiting or returning to Australia.

Foot and Mouth disease in Australia
Biosecurity announcement on a recent flight heading into Australia. © Clint Jasper/ABC Rural

Senator Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Emergency Management, has announced $14 million in funding to increase biosecurity measures, including more biosecurity officers at airports.  

Additionally, sanitised foot mats will be rolled out in the coming days across Australian airports. These will be used for flights from Indonesia in an attempt to eliminate the potential for an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. 

In a tweet, Senator Watt stated, “I know people are worried about FMD entering Aus. That’s why I tested out biosecurity ops on my return from Jakarta. 100% of travellers from Indonesia now risk profiled. Those deemed a risk/ who declare on passenger card sent for full screening.”  

There is no current plan for the Federal government to cease travel between Indonesia and Australia, despite the Coalition’s call to close the border. With Australia only reopening borders again for travel this year, the Federal government does not want to see further impacts on the travel industry through closures at this stage.  

According to the ABC, since COVID restrictions were lifted, Bali has experienced a large resurgence in Australian travellers and now relies upon consumer confidence to remain.  

Aussies travelling to Indonesia warned of foot and mouth disease spread
Thousands of Aussies are heading overseas to make the most of Australia’s borders fully reopening. Popular destinations include Indonesia, where a devastating Foot and Mouth disease outbreak has gripped the country. © Penny Thomas/The West

If the disease is spread into Australia, it may decimate the livestock industry, an $80 billion threat to the economy. It is highly contagious and can be spread through food, contact with other animals, as well being contracted through the air.  

Airports will continue to play a vital role in delivering strict biosecurity measures. Aeroplanes are also delivering updated biosecurity messaging for travellers to spread awareness.

What is Foot and Mouth disease?

According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, “Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.”

The Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website has issued a list of advice for returning travellers to ensure they do not return with any product that may be a threat to Australia’s biodiversity.  

Smart Traveller has indicated that goods including shoes, boots and clothing, alongside meat and dairy products, have the potential to bring the disease into Australian territory. Camping equipment, including backpacks, also brings risk, as well as equipment that has been exposed or used in rural areas, markets, zoos, or near susceptible animals also has a high risk.

For the latest on the Foot and Mouth outbreak, follow @thetravelradar on socials!
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Madilyn McKinley
Madilyn McKinley
Assistant Editor - A little about me coming soon!


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