Worries have been raised that foot and mouth disease, which has not been detected in Indonesia for 32 years, could spread to neighboring countries livestock. Virus fragments from foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever were recently found in pork products sold at a Melbourne retailer, adding to the growing list of places where the disease has been detected including most of South America, much of Africa and Asia.
Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects the mouth and feet of infected animals, causing fever and the subsequent development of vesicles (blisters).
While FMD rarely kills an adult animal, it can have devastating effects on livestock populations by killing off newborns.
Individuals, the farming industry, and subsidiary and support industries would all take a major financial hit if FMD were to break out.
Examples of cloven-hoofed animals that are impacted by foot and mouth diseases:
Warning signs of FMD may include:
- long strings of sticky saliva (cattle)
Since transmission of the foot and mouth disease from animals to humans is so incredibly rare, it is not a concern for public safety. There is however a different virus that causes the human disease known as hand, foot, and mouth disease, which primarily affects infants and toddlers.
Meanwhile a number of agricultural groups continue to call for a restriction on travel between Australia and Bali due to concerns that tourists may spread the disease on their shoes and clothing.
Within two months of its initial detection in May, the disease had spread to twenty additional provinces across Indonesia, including the island of Bali.
Indonesia, unable to handle the increasing numbers, has formed a task force and mandated the culling of more than 3,600 infected livestock.
The term “culling” refers to the process of reducing the size of something by slaughtering unhealthy or injured members of the population.
Slaughterhouses have also been ordered to kill and bury any animals exhibiting FMD signs and to vaccinate vulnerable animals.
Recently, over 366,000 animals across 22 provinces were infected, most heavily concentrated on the islands of Java and Sumatra. According to official data from the National FMD Task Force, at least 2,400 animals have perished as a result of the disease.
The government has cautioned cattle breeders and merchants to safeguard the safety of the livestock they sell.
The Illegal trade in infected meat and dairy products, followed by the illegal feeding of these goods (swill) to pigs, will ensure the continued spread of FMD.
If foot-and-mouth disease were ever detected in the United States, virtually every country would immediately ban their livestock and livestock products.
On Thursday, the world’s top agricultural leaders met with their Indonesian counterparts to discuss how to stop the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak that has infected hundreds of thousands of cattle in Indonesia and prevent the outbreak from spreading to neighboring countries.
To combat the foot and mouth disease outbreak, Indonesia’s minister of agriculture has announced plans to install disinfectant mats to help stop the spread of the disease from Indonesia into Australia and surrounding countries.
All incoming passengers from Indonesia must undergo profiling, real-time risk assessments, interrogation, and shoe cleaning. And until evidence proves that the disease had been eradicated, it is unlikely that these restrictions would be lifted.
Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo of Indonesia has expressed solidarity with his country’s efforts to stem the disease’s spread.
Early in August, Australia plans to deliver Indonesia one million FMD vaccinations and a financing package of 500,000 Australian dollars ($337,600). Currently, farmers and breeders have received medicine, antibiotics, vitamins, immune boosters, and disinfectants thanks to a joint effort between the ministry and the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
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