This highly contagious livestock disease has spread to Bali and the official advice for travelers returning to Australia is to let go of the belts.

Bali aficionados be warned – your dirty thongs could be the downfall of our livestock industry.

After the “devastating” foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was discovered in Australia’s favorite tourist destination, all travelers returning from Indonesia will undergo special biosecurity screenings for the disease.

Although FMD is harmless to humans, the disease – which can be found in contaminated soil – is considered the biggest biosecurity risk to Australian livestock.

Causes painful blisters and lesions in animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and camels – the disease often prevents them from eating, can cause severe lameness and even death.

And because the disease is highly contagious, Fiona Simson, president of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), said if the disease spread in Australia, the consequences would cost billions of dollars.

“The news that FMD has reached Bali has given Australian farmers the shivers,” said Ms Simson.

“An FMD invasion alone would cost Australia up to $80 billion, damaging the entire economy, not just the agricultural sector.”

And as Australia exports nearly two-thirds of what the agricultural industry produces, the disease threatens not only Australia’s export earnings, but also the industry’s ability to meet local demand.

The potential threat remains as Australia continues to grapple with the economic impact of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and local floods, which have fueled inflation and interest rates, impacting the cost and availability of groceries such as meats and vegetables. poultry.

“Our ability to produce food and fiber for Australians and the world would take a major blow, which is why biosecurity is important for every person,” said Ms Simson.

There are currently no traces of FMD in Australia and the last recorded outbreak was 150 years ago.

However, as travelers head to Bali for the first time in three years, the federal government has announced additional biosecurity measures for travelers returning to Australia from Indonesia, including Bali.

“Australia has strict biosecurity protocols in place to prevent the introduction of high-risk materials, such as contaminated equipment or clothing, animals and animal products, by travelers who may have been exposed to sick animals,” the Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

“Australia has strict biosecurity protocols in place to prevent the introduction of high-risk materials, such as contaminated equipment or clothing, animals and animal products, by travelers who may have been exposed to sick animals.

Anyone returning to Australia after visiting a farm or having contact with livestock abroad must declare this upon return so that steps can be taken to eliminate the risk of transmission through contaminated clothing or dirty shoes.”

Airports have already started checking baggage for meat and cheese products, warning tourists that their dirty shoes may be contaminated.

However, airports are soon expected to enforce “foot baths,” in which travelers must step into containers filled with chemicals to kill any traces of the disease.

But since most Bali travelers choose to wear thongs when traveling, Chief Veterinary Officer Mark Schipp has advised travelers to leave their thongs behind before returning to Australia.

The new biosecurity measure is a welcome sign for farmers across Australia, Ms Simson said.

“Since FMD was discovered in Bali, our industry has been on edge given the growing traffic volumes between our countries,” she said.

“We are delighted that Minister Watt is listening to this matter and is taking this matter seriously, and acting appropriately to protect Australia’s coasts from this potentially devastating disease.

However, Ms Simson said the government should continue to review these institutions as the situation evolves.

“We now need the government to continuously assess whether these measures go far enough, and to consider whether it is appropriate to screen all inbound arrivals from high-risk areas,” she added.

“This is our shared responsibility within industry, government and the community to implement barriers and know what we can do as individuals to prevent a raid.”

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