Biosecurity Queensland senior inspector John Higgins also answered questions from the floor at the Wondai meeting

August 4, 2022

The threat of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is serious but it’s Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) and African Swine Fever (ASF) which has Biosecurity Queensland senior inspector John Higgins most worried at the moment.

Mr Higgins was the guest speaker at a special South Burnett Agricultural Network meeting, hosted by BIEDO and the South Burnett Regional Council, at Wondai Town Hall on Thursday morning.

About 90 local producers filled the hall to hear updates on the three diseases, which are knocking on the door of Australia.

More watched online in a livestream provided by local agents Aussie Land & Livestock.

The producers heard that Indonesia – including the island of Bali – is currently fighting FMD outbreaks; LSD has also been detected in parts of Indonesia; and ASF has been confirmed in Papua New Guinea.

Any of these diseases if accidentally introduced into Australia would be a nightmare, and cost producers and the government millions of dollars.

Mr Higgins said FMD would most likely be introduced into Australia via contaminated foodstuffs which were then fed to pigs.

“That is why swill feeding is banned in Australia and has been for some time,” he said.

He pointed out that countries such as Argentina and Brazil had FMD outbreaks but Australia had not stopped trading with them; and that the FMD viral fragments detected recently during routine screening of meat products in Victoria had come from China, not Indonesia.

Mr Higgins said the FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001 had been caused by just one man who had fed his pigs scraps off an aircraft. Nine days later one of his pigs was detected carrying the disease at an abattoir but by then it was too late; FMD had spread throughout the country.

At the height of the outbreak, more than 90,000 animals a week had to be slaughtered in a bid to stop the disease spreading.

Mr Higgins said LSD was spread by biting insects, including mosquitoes and ticks, and could be introduced into Australia via winds sweeping down from the north.

And ASF, which would be devastating for the local pork industry, had been detected in PNG – Australia’s nearest neighbour – in 2020.

Monitoring for all these diseases was occurring across northern Australia.

But if any of them were detected in Australia, the reaction would be the same: containment, eradication (ie. humane destruction of the animals), disposal and then decontamination of the affected properties.

All animal movements would be stopped within 24 hours.

Mr Higgins said there were no approved vaccines available for LSD in Australia – although research was under way, supported by the Queensland Government – but we do have a bank of FMD vaccines stored in England.

These could be used to help contain the spread of the disease, but in the end these cattle, too, would have to be slaughtered for Australia to regain its FMD-free status.

Mr Higgins urged producers to have an up-to-date biosecurity plan, make sure their contact details with Biosecurity Queensland were correct and always make sure their National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) data was accurate.

“Has someone been overseas lately? Don’t let then near your animals for a couple of days,” he said.

Anyone who suspected a notifiable animal disease – such as FMD, LSD or ASF – should immediately call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800-675-888.

Mr Higgins said if an animal had to be slaughtered, the producer would be compensated at the market value at the time.

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South Burnett Regional Council officer Jim Willmott reminded producers that another co-ordinated feral animal baiting program would be held later this year.

He urged producers interested in taking part to register with Council before September 15.

To make it easier, Council would also be supplying the meat, cut into portions.

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Video of the meeting by Aussie Land & Livestock:



Posted by Aᴜssɪᴇ Lᴀɴᴅ & Lɪᴠᴇsᴛᴏᴄᴋ on Wednesday, 3 August 2022

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Related articles:

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South Burnett mayor Brett Otto and Cr Jane Erkens at the meeting
The forum was organised by Cr Kathy Duff and BIEDO project officer Alan Broome
Producers listened intently as John Higgins spoke, and asked a string of questions after the presentation

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables


One Response to "Producers Urged To Stay Alert"

  1. Good grief! I am at the moment listening to a phone-in account from a just-returned traveller (from Bali) on a radio show and what was related is very frightening.

    The person stated to the checker that he had shoes in his luggage and had worn them in Bali and got no response from the checking person re the shoes. He did, though, use the mat for the shoes he was wearing. Also sniffer dogs were seen to be targeting a couple of other travellers and no searches were done of their luggage.

    The govt’s response to biosecurity checking is very lacking. All noise and not much action! After listening yesterday it is very apparent that there are not enough Biosecurity personnel employed.

    Really, if one believed in conspiracies it would be easy to think that certain groups would be happy to see a reduction of animal numbers. It would help towards the aim for emissions reduction!

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