Responding to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak

Australia is currently free from FMD, but it is vital to have a plan in place to control an FMD outbreak if one occurs.

In the event of an FMD outbreak, state and federal governments will follow the Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan Disease Strategy – foot-and-mouth disease. Government will take a number of actions and will keep you informed about livestock owners' responsibilities and any actions you need to take.

FMD spreads easily by:

  • movement of infected live or dead animals
  • movement of contaminated animal products, equipment, clothing, vehicles, animal feed, bedding and waste material
  • airborne transmission of the virus

Therefore, an early critical control measure to limit the spread of FMD will be to stop the movement of all livestock at risk of infection, initially for a period of 72 hours.

A livestock standstill gives authorities time to:

  • conduct disease surveillance
  • trace the previous movements of infected livestock
  • identify geographic areas where the disease may have spread.

Animals that are infected, or suspected to be infected, will be destroyed as quickly as possible to reduce shedding of the virus and the spread of FMD.

Emergency vaccination of uninfected animals might be used as an additional disease control measure.

Human infection with FMD is rare, and FMD is not a significant human health problem. Generally, human infection with FMD is temporary and mild, only very occasionally resulting in clinical disease.

However, as a precaution, all carcasses and products from infected animals will be destroyed and not processed for human (or animal) consumption.

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