Agriculture Minister and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud

April 6, 2021

Viral fragments of African Swine Fever (ASF) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) have again been detected in pork products seized at Australia’s international mail centres.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said FMD was considered the biggest animal disease threat to Australia’s agriculture.

“An outbreak of FMD in Australia would lead to the closure of major livestock, beef, lamb, dairy and pork export markets with serious economic and social effects in other sectors, including tourism,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Studies have estimated a large multi-state outbreak of FMD in Australia could result in economic losses of $50 billion over 10 years and an outbreak of ASF could cost Australia $1.5 to $2.03 billion over five years.

“Pork products were seized at international mail centres in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne over two two-week periods over recent holidays.

“Overall, 24 per cent of samples tested positive for ASF virus fragments and 1 per cent tested positive for FMD virus fragments.

“In the first period (December 2020), 19 of 94 pork samples (20 per cent) tested positive for ASF virus fragments and none tested positive for FMD virus fragments.

“In the second period (January-February 2020) 29 of 104 pork samples (28 per cent) tested positive for ASF virus fragments and two of 104 pork samples (2 per cent) tested positive for FMD virus fragments.

“We are ready to respond should ASF or FMD ever be detected here, including recently running simulation exercises for the Australian pork industry.

“While these results do not confirm live infectious virus is present, it is a reminder that we need everyone to be more vigilant. It is more important than ever that people do the right thing and don’t bring, mail or import illegal pork or animal products into Australia.

“These findings highlight the need for Australia’s livestock industries to maintain high biosecurity standards. Practices such as illegal swill feeding (feeding food scraps to pigs) have the potential to bring these diseases into their farms.”

The latest mail interceptions do not change Australia’s FMD or ASF-free status.

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