INDONESIA’S declaration of Foot and Mouth Disease as endemic did not mean the country was “giving up the ghost” on control, an FMD and Lumpy Skin Disease webinar was told last night.
Department of Agriculture Fishers and Forestry assistant secretary animal division – biosecurity, Dr Brant Smith said there has been a recent decree from Indonesia’s Minister of Agriculture that indicates control of FMD and LSD still remains a priority.
“It just means, as we understand it, and I know it’s still early, that they are not stopping controlling the disease, they are just preparing to transition it from what’s an emergency phase to a longer term management of Foot and Mouth Disease,” he said.
Dr Brant said Indonesia’s disease surveillance, biosecurity and movement controls will continue to be implemented.
“They do have a roadmap for 2030 eradication which they are still working towards.
“There is going to be a considerable required to get there and we will continue to provide support to Indonesia as we need to help them in their efforts,” he said.
“The other thing to keep in mind too is that we have got very strong measures.
“We’ve had them in place for this period of time and they’ve been successful,” he said.
“FMD has been around for a hundred years and we have had stock and people coming in and out of FMD countries for many years.
“I guess I want people to realise that we are still taking this very seriously, we’ve still got the measures in place to manage, but it’s not to raise concerns.”
He said the endemic declaration was not unexpected by the department, despite coming “out of the blue… and we think we can manage it going forward.”
“We are confident that we’ve got all our settings in place to manage that risk.”
Dr Smith said as of May 3, Indonesian Government had recorded 610, 399 FMD cases since the outbreak began, in 27 of the 38 provinces. For LSD, the government has reported 38,169 cases.
“It would be fair to say that the true scene is probably unclear; it is likely that these cases might have been under-reported.
“Most of the focus has certainly been on Foot and Mouth Disease and there are some challenges that they face in country about how they report and notify cases.”
He said the Indonesians have been putting in considerable effort, but there are considerable challenges. There are 11,000 islands, 38 provinces, provincial politics and issues.
“And they don’t have a centralized form of government like we do, in the Department of Ag, they have this aggregated means of dealing with quarantine, so it is has been very challenging for them.”
Dr Smith said there had been an important collaborative effort to find out what is happening on the ground in Indonesia.
Ever-increasing biosecurity risks….
Dr Smith also went through the exotic animal disease threats to Australia, including climate change, decreasing biodiversity, changing land uses, shifting trade and travel patterns, illegal activity, major global disruptions and increasing biosecurity risks overseas.
He said the shifting trade and travel patterns have also been important. Australia’s supply chains, trading partners and demand for goods are continuously evolving and increasing in complexity, changing the biosecurity risk reaching the nation’s international borders, and changing land use and the urban/non-urban area interface has also been important, Dr Smith said.
“And as our population grows and spreads and movements of people, wildlife, natural habitats and corridors with agricultural area, that is increasing our biosecurity risk.”
He said the prevalence of illegal activity has increased in recent years is leading to higher biosecurity threats and the need to be ever-vigilant. Global disruptions such as COVID-19 leading to incidents like contaminated imported cars were also putting strains on the Australian biosecurity system, Dr Smith said.
“And obviously the ever-increasing biosecurity risks that we see overseas that we see, for example, Lumpy Skin Disease and Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks…”
Be alert but not alarmed …
Webinar chair Red Meat Advisory Council independent chairman John McKillop said 800 people registered for the webinar and about 230 were online.
He said industry has collaborated well with government on biosecurity webinars, and said the reason “we’ve taken our foot off the accelerator in terms of running webinars….is largely because a lot of the work has been done, not because we think there is less threat of either of those diseases coming in.
“We’re still very much of ‘be alert, but not alarmed’ about the impact or the potential for those diseases to come in as well as obviously the impact if they did come into Australia.”
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