Foot-and-mouth disease is spreading rapidly across Indonesia for the first time in 32 years and there are concerns it could spread to Australia’s herds.
Australia’s top agriculture official met with his Indonesian counterpart on Thursday to discuss ways to stop a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak that has infected hundreds of thousands of cattle in Indonesia and prevent the outbreak from spreading to Australia.
The disease was detected in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and East Java in May and has spread to 20 other provinces, including Bali, in the past two months.
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt met with Indonesia’s Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo and vowed to support Indonesia’s efforts to contain the spread of the outbreak in Australia’s closest major neighbor.
“FMD would have a significant impact on Australian agriculture if it reaches our shores,” Watt said in a statement ahead of his visit. “We are taking practical measures to prevent that.”
Foot-and-mouth disease — an acute, highly contagious viral disease of cloven-footed animals that is sometimes transmitted to humans — is spreading rapidly across Indonesia, which had been outbreak-free for 32 years, before an infection reportedly by imported cattle from India.
Indonesia, struggling to cope with the rising numbers, is setting up a task force and ordering the culling of more than 3,600 infected livestock.
As of Thursday, more than 366,000 animals have been infected in 22 provinces, largely on the most populated islands of Java and Sumatra. At least 2,400 animals have died from the disease, according to official data from the National FMD Task Force.
Limpo said his ministry is working with the National Disaster Mitigation Agency and together they have distributed medicines, antibiotics, vitamins, immune boosters, and disinfectants to farmers and breeders.
The government has warned cattle breeders and traders to ensure that the cattle they sell are free from the disease, ordering slaughterhouses to kill and bury all animals showing FMD symptoms and to vaccinate susceptible animals.
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