INDONESIA won’t get rid of Foot and Mouth Disease in the short or medium term, Australian farmers were told in a Victorian Farmers Federation webinar tonight.
More than 700 farmers attended the webinar moderated by VFF president Emma Germano.
Head of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries National Animal Disease Taskforce Dr Chris Parker said the worry with FMD in Indonesia is that there is active infection in environments that have had no infection before.
“They’ve been free since 1986, there are lots of animals that have never been exposed and they’re not vaccinated or anything like that.
“So large numbers of animals are being infected and there is probably close to 400,000 reported at the moment,” he said.
“So what we are seeing is rapid spread and that’s not unexpected in a population of what we would call naïve animals or animals that are susceptible.”
Dr Parker said the government is investigating a lot of other measures to provide assistance at Australia’s borders to boost current biosecurity, awareness, education and border declaration, but he considered there was “defence in depth at the border.”
He said Australia is assisting Indonesia to be able to get FMD under control.
“I believe the Minister announced $1.5 million towards vaccine today which the Indonesians will use.
“We also have some work that we’ve done MLA and we’ve provided some money for a joint biosecurity program that will help improve biosecurity, particularly in the feedlot industry, but also in small holder farms,” Dr Parker said.
“We’ve also provided expert advice in line with Indonesia’s request around both the vaccine program, but also whether they will produce vaccine locally as well, and there will be a range of other things that will be announced that I’m not in a position to talk about yet.”
“So what we are in the process of doing is stopping it getting in and that’s what I think myself and all my colleagues and all the people working for us at the border are highly focused on,” he said.
“And then we are focused on assisting Indonesia in getting this under control.
“They won’t get rid of it in the short or medium term, we know that.”
Indonesia is a large archipelago with thousands of islands, although there were advantages in that movement between islands could be controlled, Dr Parker said.
“But I suppose the endgame for all of us is where we should be aiming, is assisting Indonesia to get this under control.
“Because once it’s under control they’re probably no greater risk than a lot of the other countries where we’ve been trading with for years and that we’ve had passengers coming and going,” he said.
“But it is the uncontrolled nature that causes us serious concern it’s that that we need to be prepared for and work our way through.”
Dr Parker said there was “no way in the world” that Australia would voluntarily start vaccinating with a killed FMD vaccine, “because it would significantly change our trading status and those countries we could trade with.”
A million FMD vaccine doses available within a week
Dr Parker said Australia had a “vaccine bank which we own.”
“It’s held in the United Kingdom.
“At the moment it has five different serotypes in it,” he said.
“We have the serotype or the type of FMD that is in Indonesia in that vaccine bank and a million doses can produced in seven days,” Dr Parker said.
“That’s the contractual arrangement that we have with the company who holds it for us and then if we required more vaccine than that, we would have to wait a period of time while they replenished the stock or we would be buying it on the open market and there are a range of companies that produce that serotype amongst others.
“But we have a million doses available to us within a week.”
Vaccine unlikely to be available on ‘day one’ of an FMD outbreak
Agriculture Victoria’s principal officer – emergency animal disease with the Chief Veterinary Officer’s Unit, Dr Megan Scott, said under the right conditions the FMD virus can survive for weeks in the environment.
Dr Scott showed a map illustrating the thousands of sheep movements across Victoria in a day from properties to saleyards to abattoirs and urged farmers to think of two borders – their boundary fence and the national border. Farmers were best placed to monitor the health and behaviour of their stock.
She said vaccine is only one tool, it may or not be used and would be used strategically depending on the type of outbreak.
“It’s important to understand that vaccine is unlikely to be available on day one of an outbreak … and as Chris pointed out we’ve got a million doses ready to roll, but we have a lot more than a million stock.”
Quarantine for a week if returning from Bali
Dr Parker said if farmers were coming back from a holiday in Bali they should be thinking about quarantining for 5-7 days before returning to their property.
“If you don’t take any clothing back and you’ve got no contact with animals that will be a slightly different thing won’t it?
“I think an abundance of caution given the activity that we see in Indonesia is not an unreasonable thing.”
Australian Government to give Indonesia $1.5m for 1 million FMD vaccinations
A statement from Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt today said the Australian Government will provide $1.5 million to provide at least 1 million FMD doses for Indonesia’s vaccination program, following a formal request for assistance from the Indonesian Government.
Indonesia’s vaccination program is focused on support for the small-holder farming sector, which makes up around 90pc of Indonesia’s cattle industry.
This support is in addition to Australia’s existing commitment of 435,000 Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) vaccine doses that are currently being distributed to affected Indonesia provinces.
Mr Watt discussed Australia’s support with Indonesian Minister for Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo in Jakarta today. The minister also met with Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority head and chief of the Indonesian Task Force for Foot and Mouth Disease, Lieutenant General Suharyanto.
The Australian Government has also committed an initial $500,000 to Meat and Livestock Australia, responsible for coordinating support from Australian industry for the Indonesian feedlot sector’s emergency response to these diseases.
Ms Wong said safeguarding the biosecurity of our region is a shared concern for Australia and Indonesia.
“This was something confirmed during the recent Indonesia-Australia Annual Leaders’ Meeting.
“The provision of 1 million vaccine doses to combat Foot and Mouth disease underscores Australia’s commitment to supporting Indonesia’s response to the outbreak.”
Mr Watt said during his meeting with Lieutenant General Suharyanto he offered to share Australian expertise on emergency disease management and biosecurity.
“The Albanese Government is taking a two-pronged approach to preventing the incursion of Foot and Mouth disease, first by strengthening biosecurity measures at the Australian border, and also by supporting efforts to curb the spread overseas.”