Vigilance needed as foot and mouth disease spreads through Indonesia

// Biosecurity

The discovery of fragments of foot and mouth disease virus in pork products in Australia is another reminder of the need for vigilance while the disease outbreak continues in Indonesia.

image of cows and ute

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.

“While the risk of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) arriving in New Zealand 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 farm biosecurity measures are being implemented.”

What Beef + Lamb New Zealand is doing

  • We are working closely with MPI to ensure New Zealand is well prepared and taking every practical step possible to prevent FMD entering the country.
  • Following the strengthening of measures at the border, we are now looking at what more can be done. For example, we would like to see increased surveillance and compliance activity around swill/waste feeding regulations for pigs, which is well recognised as a risk pathway for the disease if border measures fail. 
  • We will continue to hold the Government and our border agencies to account because we know what a significant impact this disease would have on our sector if it entered the country.
  • As a partner with MPI and other industries in preparing for and responding to biosecurity risks that occur in New Zealand, we are working with MPI on the FMD Task Force to improve readiness for FMD, in the unlikely event that there is an outbreak. 

What farmers can do

  • Anyone concerned about their animals’ health, especially symptoms including high fever, mouth and feet blisters or erosions and lameness, should call their veterinarian or the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) exotic pest and disease hotline (0800 80 99 66).
  • Farmer should remember to keep up-to-date NAIT records.
  • In addition to cattle and deer, FMD can infect pigs, sheep and goats and movements of these animals are not included in NAIT but are covered by Animal Status Declarations (ASDs)
  • Instead of using paper-based ASDs for every movement, we urge sheep and beef farmers to use the electronic ASD (eASD) functionality provided by OSPRI for all livestock species. eASD’s enable the speedy tracing of animals in the event of a disease outbreak. This is particularly important for sheep, which are not included in NAIT.
  • Keep overseas visitors away from stock for a week after their last contact with animals overseas.

The meat processing and export sector, along with sheep and beef farmers, collectively generate over $12 billion of income for New Zealand annually. The sector is New Zealand’s biggest manufacturing industry and the second largest exporter of goods. It accounts for 92,000 jobs and $4.6 billion in household income.

“All of this would be put at serious risk if there was a FMD outbreak in New Zealand,” says Will.

Concerns have also been raised about the importation of Palm Kernel Expeller, but MPI has conducted a thorough in-person audit of all the facilities producing PKE and exporting to New Zealand. 

“Before the FMD outbreak the PKE exporters were already operating at a level considered acceptable for a nation where FMD is present – the audits have confirmed they are continuing to operate to this standard. Few, if any, of the PKE facilities had livestock in the vicinity.”

Find out more

For more information about foot and mouth disease, go to the dedicated FMD webpage on the B+LNZ website.