October 2, 2019
Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie has predicted that one-quarter of the world’s pigs will be dead by the end of this year because of African Swine Fever.
The disease – which kills about 80 per cent of the pigs that it infects – has been detected less than 700km from Australia’s northern border .
Outbreaks have been confirmed this week in Timor-Leste.
The ABC reported on Monday there had been 100 reported outbreaks of African Swine Fever in smallholder pig farms in the Dili municipality and 405 pigs had died.
The disease has also been reported in China, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, the Philippines and Cambodia.
Minister McKenzie is calling for heightened vigilance to keep African Swine Fever out of Australia.
“There’s no vaccine and no cure,” she said.
There are concerns the disease could spread quickly due to the large feral pig population in northern Australia.
“We’re boosting our biosecurity effort at international airports to target those flights from countries affected by African Swine Fever and in coming weeks we will be undertaking spot checks of each and every person arriving on selected flights,” Minister McKenzie said.
“I’ve asked my department to employ detector dog capabilities in Darwin given the heightened risk direct flights from Timor-Leste could pose.
“We’re also working with airlines in countries that have African Swine Fever to make sure passengers understand our requirements and have every opportunity to comply.
“Earlier this year we implemented changes to immigration legislation so that international visitors who bring in undeclared high risk items, like pork from African Swine Fever-affected countries, can be sent back home. They can be refused entry to Australia and have their visas cancelled for up to three years.
“Since we increased border checks we’ve been seizing 100 kilograms week in illegal pork products.
“Between November 5, 2018, and August 31, 2019, over 27 tonnes of pork were intercepted on air travellers entering Australia.
“We need every Australian and all our visitors to play their part and leave pork products overseas.”
African Swine Fever does not affect humans.