Foot and mouth disease

​​What to look for

  • fever, drooling and reluctance to move in cattle, pigs, sheep, buffalo, deer, camelids and goats
  • blisters on the mouth, snout, tongue, lips or between and above the hooves on the feet; blisters may be intact or ruptured, exposing raw, painful tissue.     

Example of blistering on the mouth Example of blistering between the hooves Example of blistering on feet Example of blistering on snout
The disease causes blisters on the mouth, snout, tongue, lips and between and above the hooves on the feet

What you can do

  • Do not move live animals, meat and dairy products, untanned hides or skins, other animal products or soil out of the Torres Strait Protected Zone to the Torres Strait Permanent Biosecurity Monitoring Zone, or from either zone to mainland Australia without a permit and an inspection by a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources biosecurity officer.
  • Report any of these signs in cattle, pigs, sheep, buffalo, deer, camelids and goats to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

warning sign  

Live animals, meat and dairy products, untanned hides and skins, other animal products and soil need a permit to move south between zones and to mainland Australia.

Profile

Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals including buffalo, pigs, cattle, sheep, deer, camelids and goats. It is capable of extremely rapid spread – often, entire herds can be infected within 48 hours. Cattle are most susceptible, though pigs spread the disease fastest. An incursion of this disease into Australia would lead to a loss in production of meat and milk, cessation of trade and the slaughter of many animals.

Identification

Early signs include fever, drooling and a reluctance to move. Blisters appear on the mouth, snout, tongue, lips or between and above the hooves on the feet. The blisters rupture to expose raw, painful tissue.

Distribution

Outbreaks are common in parts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America. Outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom in 2001 and 2007 resulted in millions of animals being destroyed and billions of dollars of revenue lost.

Threat

Foot and mouth disease is considered one of Australia’s biggest biosecurity risks. An uncontrolled outbreak could lead to beef, lamb and pork export markets being closed for more than a year, and control costs have been estimated at more than 50 billion dollars over 10 years . Even an isolated, rapidly controlled outbreak could cost several billion dollars to eradicate, with serious economic and social effects in other sectors, including tourism.

Keep a Top Watch!

Foot and mouth disease virus is carried by live cloven-hooved animals and in meat and dairy products, as well as in soil, bones, untreated hides, vehicles and equipment used with these animals. It can survive in frozen, chilled and freeze-dried foods including meat and dairy products. It is illegal to carry such items into Australia without an import permit. Keep a watch for planes or boats in your region that may be carrying animals or animal products. Also keep watch for food and garbage washed up on the beach. If you see any of these threats, contact NAQS immediately.

Report any signs of blisters on the feet and mouth of wild and domestic pigs, cattle, deer, goats and buffalo in northern Australia by calling the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

For further information or advice contact NAQS.