Header for FMD

The TFGA are extremely concerned about the recent detections of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Bali and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in Indonesia. We want to assure you that we are working with government and our peak industry bodies to ensure that our industry is protected. We will endeavour to provide you with as much information as we can.

Information so far:

State and Federal governments are undertaking a range of activities to manage the biosecurity risks posed by LSD and FMD. On 6 July and again on 20 July the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt announced a range of additional measures to be implemented, including;

  • Deployment of foot sanitation mats in Australia’s international airports
  • $14 million biosecurity package announced to deliver more frontline defences in airports and mail centres, along with support on the ground for Indonesia and neighbouring countries.
  • The location of biosecurity detector dogs in Darwin and Cairns airports
  • Additional signage and the distribution of flyers at major airports, informing travellers of FMD risk and precautions
  • Expanded social media campaigns informing travellers of their biosecurity responsibilities
  • Additional training of airport biosecurity staff
  • Enhancement of mail profiling and inspections
  • Boarding by biosecurity officers on arriving flights from Indonesia

A State joint industry taskforce has been established to ensure coordination and collaboration across all affected industry sectors.

Four skills-based committees have been set up by the taskforce covering overseas in-country support; trade and protocols; diagnostic capability and vaccine development; and domestic containment strategies. TFGA has two representatives on the domestic containment strategies committee.

The State Government has boosted Tasmanian incoming airport screening and increased border controls regarding parcels and goods into the state.

The TFGA has also commenced a social media campaign to boost awareness with travellers regarding the risks of ‘bringing FMD home’ to Tasmania.

Below is information around what is FMD, how it is spread, the impact and what you can do to help. At the bottom of this page are a number of resources and links that will assist prepare your farm in respect to biosecurity.

Click to download the TFGA Fact Sheet on Foot & Mouth Disease

What is Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD)?

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious virus disease of animals. It is one of the most serious livestock diseases. It affects cloven-hoofed animals (those with divided hoofs), including cattle, buffalo, camels, sheep, goats, deer and pigs. It is found in many parts of the world, and has been reported in countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America and more recently in Bali, Indonesia.

While it can cause serious production losses, the most significant impact of the disease occurs because of its effect on trade in livestock and livestock products. Countries without the disease, which include many of Australia’s major trading partners do not import from, or severely restrict imports from FMD-infected countries.

There are seven serotypes of the virus: A, O, C, SAT1, SAT2, SAT3 and Asia1. These are further subdivided into more than 60 strains. The importance of these serotypes is that protection against one serotype (e.g. through vaccination) will not protect against infection with another serotype. Different serotypes dominate in different parts of the world.\

Click to download the image below or via the link TFGA Fact Sheet on Foot & Mouth Disease.

How is it transmitted?

FMD is a viral disease that spreads rapidly between animals. Virus is excreted in breath, saliva, mucus, milk and faeces. The virus can be excreted by animals for up to four days before clinical signs appear. Animals can become infected through inhalation, ingestion and direct contact. The disease spreads most commonly through the movement of infected animals. In sheep the symptoms can be absent or very mild, and undetected infected sheep can be an important source of infection. FMD virus can also be spread on wool, hair, grass or straw; by the wind; or by mud or manure sticking to footwear, clothing, livestock equipment or vehicle tyres.

Pigs are regarded as ‘amplifying hosts’ because they can excrete very large quantities of the virus in their exhaled breath. Cattle are very susceptible to, and able to be infected by breathing in small quantities of the virus. In some animals (‘carriers’), the virus can continue to be carried for long periods (months or years) after apparent recovery.

How infectious is it?

FMD spreads rapidly from one animal to another, especially in cool, damp climates and/or when animals are penned or housed closely together. The virus survives well at temperatures below 4 degrees Celsius, but is inactivated as temperatures rise. It is also rapidly inactivated at relative humidity less than 60 per cent.

Spread of infection between properties and areas is frequently due to movement of infected animals and/or contaminated vehicles, equipment, people and products.

Under suitable conditions, and dependent upon the strain and concentration of virus, windborne spread could be involved in the transmission of FMD over several kilometres. FMD may remain infective in the environment for several weeks. Low temperatures and high humidity increases virus survival.

Symptoms & Signs

Although FMD impacts all ages it can be particularly lethal in young animals and can cause serious production losses. The clinical signs are fever followed by the appearance of vesicles (fluid-filled blisters) between the toes and on the heels, on mammary glands and especially on the lips, tongue and palate. These vesicles often combine to form large, swollen blisters that erupt to leave raw, painful ulcers that take up to 10 days to heal.

Foot lesions leave animals lame and unable to walk to feed or water. Tongue and mouth lesions are very painful and cause animals to drool and stop eating. Adults usually begin eating again after a few days, but young animals may weaken and die, or be left with foot deformities or damage to the mammary glands.

FMD is important in international trade in animals and animal products, with countries that are free of the disease banning or restricting imports from affected countries. This means an outbreak would have serious economic implications for a major livestock exporting country like Australia.

How can I reduce the risk of exposure?

Appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has proven to be highly effective in reducing the risk of spread. Practice good hygiene principles when wearing PPE;

• avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose,
• cover any cuts or grazes with a water-resistant dressing under PPE (i.e. band-aid),
• do not eat or drink whilst wearing PPE,
• thoroughly wash hands and face after removing PPE & shower before handling other animals.

PPE requirements will vary depending upon the level of risk associated with the task you have been assigned. When working on properties and in-contact with potentially infected animals or materials;

• Waterproof footwear, i.e. gumboots
• Disposable overalls
• Gloves
• Footware covers

When working on properties without contact with potentially infected animals or materials;

• Waterproof footwear, i.e. gumboots
• Disposable overalls
• Gloves
• Footware covers

What can you do?


  • Review your on-farm biosecurity plan.
  • Be aware of the signs of LSD and FMD.
  • Adhere to all livestock traceability requirements.
  • Monitor who is coming onto your farm – ensure that any visitors who have recently travelled overseas take the appropriate steps to minimise the risk of transmission through contaminated clothing or shoes.
  • If livestock exhibit any unusual signs consistent with FMD, report urgently to a local veterinarian or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

What are the impacts of an outbreak of FMD?

The economic effects of an outbreak of FMD, even on a small scale, would be enormous to individuals, the farming industry as a whole, and support industries.

Direct effects on Australia’s major livestock industries would stem from export market closures and the disruption to production associated with the disease and response activities.

There would be significant flow-on losses to many rural and regional businesses that rely on livestock industry revenue — for example, from the impact of movement restrictions on the routine movement of livestock in Australia.

In addition, it is expected that there would be indirect effects on sectors such as tourism as a result of customer perceptions and the general downturn of the rural economy.

There would also be significant social costs. At the individual and family level, the social impacts could range from emotional strains on family relationships to severe mental disorders. At the community level, impacts could range from a breakdown of normal community activities, during quarantine and movement restrictions, to changes in interpersonal relationships, affecting longer term community cohesion.

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