Alert status – African Swine Fever & Foot and Mouth Disease

Keeping African Swine Fever (SWF) and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) out of Australia

​​​​​​In light of the changing distribution of African swine fever (ASF) in Asia and parts of Europe, the Federal Government Departments have undertaken additional activities to ensure that its biosecurity measures continue to protect Australia from exotic diseases. This includes increased screening measures, and testing a sample of pork products seized at international airports and mail processing centres for ASF and foot and mouth disease (FMD).

ASF is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs. An outbreak of ASF in Australia would have significant impacts on pig production and health. It has most recently been reported in Belgium, Slovakia, Serbia, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines and Timor Leste. The department is responding actively to this situation.

FMD is one of the most serious exotic livestock diseases affecting cloven hoofed animals such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, pigs, deer and camels. FMD is considered to be the single greatest biosecurity threat of any disease to Australia’s livestock industries. Australia has been free from FMD since 1872. A 2013 report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences estimated that the direct impact of a large multi-state FMD outbreak in Australia would result in an economic cost of around $50 billion over 10 years. Australia’s access to economically important international markets would be compromised. It would also be very difficult and costly to eradicate. FMD has been reported in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Russia and South America.

ASF has never occurred in Australia, and we have been free from FMD since 1872. It is crucial that Australia remains free from both ASF and FMD, and the department is committed to minimizing the risks of these exotic diseases entering Australia.

We all have a role in preventing exotic diseases, like ASF and FMD, arriving in Australia - even if we don’t own or work around farm animals.

Action by biosecurity authorities

Biosecurity authorities continue to monitor the global health situation as well as the spread of ASF and FMD.

Protecting Australia’s agricultural industries is our priority.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture is responsible for biosecurity at our international borders. We work in partnership with the states and territories, industry and the community to manage our biosecurity system.

The department will continue to keep a watching brief on ASF, FMD and other significant animal diseases.

The department also supports off-shore animal disease surveillance and risk mitigation activities in Australia’s close neighbouring countries, and monitors situational updates provided by the OIE World Organisation for Animal Health.

The state and territory agriculture departments have responsibility for the health and production of livestock in their jurisdictions and apply their own legislation, particularly around biosecurity and swill feeding prohibitions.

The department is also working closely with Australian Pork Limited to provide timely advice to Australian pig producers and industry stakeholders.