Foot-and-mouth disease

Outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in neighbouring countries threaten Western Australia's livestock and export industries. Together we can protect WA, and wider Australia’s livestock and export industries, from the risk of an outbreak.

Outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in neighbouring countries threaten Western Australia's livestock and export industries. It is critical that international travellers arriving in WA and local livestock producers familiarise themselves with the disease and preventative measures. Together we can protect WA, including the livestock sector and our export markets, from the risk of an outbreak. 

What is foot-and-mouth disease?

FMD is a highly infectious and contagious viral disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, buffalo, camels, alpaca, llama and deer). It is not a risk for human health and safety and is not the same as hand, foot and mouth disease which is often contracted by children.

How does foot-and-mouth disease spread?

FMD is highly contagious and spreads through contact with infected animals, contaminated animal products (such as meat and dairy), vehicles, equipment and people.

Although the virus does not affect people, it can be spread from person to cloven-hoofed animals and make these animals sick.

With neighbouring countries currently managing FMD outbreaks, there is a risk of the disease entering Western Australia via imported meat or dairy products or overseas travellers, which is why it is important to pay attention to the following advice.

Why is foot-and-mouth disease a serious problem for Western Australia?

FMD is one of Australia’s greatest biosecurity risks. An outbreak would have devastating social and financial impacts on Australia’s livestock industries, as well as our trade and tourism.

On a national level, it's estimated that a multi-state outbreak within Australia would have an impact of more than $80 billion over 10 years. It would also affect Western Australia's access to livestock and livestock product exports, worth $2 billion annually.

How could foot-and-mouth disease enter Western Australia?

FMD could enter Australia through:

  • Imported or mailed contaminated meat and dairy products.
  • Objects, such as footwear, contaminated with the virus that come into contact with susceptible animals.

It is critical that returning travellers follow biosecurity advice to limit the risk of an FMD outbreak in Western Australia.

The Federal Government has detailed response plans in place if an outbreak was to occur. Early detection increases the chance of the successful eradication of FMD. Livestock producers should remain vigilant for and report a suspected infection immediately to a veterinarian, your Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development veterinarian, or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Important advice for travellers about foot-and-mouth disease

Where foot-and-mouth disease is found

  • Indonesia, including Bali
  • The Middle East
  • Africa

To help protect WA on your return you must:

  • Ensure all footwear, clothing, bikes, backpacks, camping and other equipment is free of mud and animal manure. Any items that may pose a risk, may be inspected by a biosecurity officer at the airport.
  • Not bring meat or dairy products to WA. If you do, you MUST declare them for inspection.
  • Avoid bringing back any souvenirs or other goods made of hide or containing animal hair.
  • Declare any contact you had with farmlands, zoos or rural areas holding livestock while you were away.
  • Avoid contact with farmland and livestock for the first seven days when you arrive home if you've been to a country with FMD.

To clean your shoes, equipment and belongings:

  • Remove loose contamination such as soil and manure
  • Thoroughly scrub and wash the external surfaces including shoe laces and velcro by using soap, water and a brush
  • Dry thoroughly. Repeat the procedure if any contamination materials remain visible.

More information

Check the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website for the latest biosecurity-related travel information including:

Information for livestock producers and veterinarians

If your livestock are showing signs of foot-and-mouth disease, immediately call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 (free call within Australia). Find information and advice for local livestock producers and veterinarians (external link).

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Page reviewed 19 September 2022