Exotic disease spotlight - foot & mouth disease


By Linda Seale
District Veterinarian

P: 03 5881 9919 | M: 0427 629 740 | E: linda.searle@lls.nsw.gov.au

Australia is a very lucky country when it comes to disease freedom. Being an island, we have been able to protect ourselves against a lot of diseases that cause issues overseas.

One of the major exotic animal diseases is foot and mouth disease (FMD), which affects all cloven-hooved animals (those with divided hooves) including sheep, cattle, pigs, goats, deer, camels and buffalo.

FMD is caused by a viral infection. While it can spread animal to animal, it can also spread from contaminated uncooked or improperly processed meat being eaten by pigs. Pigs are known as amplifier hosts, because they can produce large amounts of virus if they become infected.

Disease prevention

Because of how the virus spreads, there are multiple levels of protection to stop the disease reaching Australia. For this reason, there are laws restricting the importation of stock, meat and dairy products from FMD -affected countries. It is also the reason why we regulate what can be fed to pigs.

To help protect our country, you can:

Symptoms of concern

FMD causes the formation of vesicles, which are fluid-filled blisters, and ulcers around the mouth, nostril, on the skin between and above the hoofs and on the teats.

You may also see:

  • lameness
  • drooling
  • fever.

Signs might be very mild in sheep and goats and can easily go unnoticed.

What do you do if you find concerning symptoms?

Call a vet


Call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Further information

Further information can be found in the DPI primefact on FMD. You’re also welcome to speak to your local district vet at your nearest Local Land Services office, or by calling 1300 795 299.

By working together, we can help protect our country and our economy from devastating exotic diseases such as foot and mouth disease.

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