The state government has announced that Victoria will create a special task force to deal with animal disease emergencies.
The Animal Disease Emergency Task Force will be overseen by senior officials from both the agricultural and emergency management sectors.
The task force will plan for a response to FMD if the devastating animal virus begins to spread in the state.
Australian authorities sounded the alarm after a recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in neighboring Indonesia.
It is one of the most serious livestock diseases in the world, affecting artiodactyls such as cattle, sheep and pigs.
The disease can be spread through manure and there is a risk that one step on contaminated soil could carry the virus to Australia.
If the outbreak were in Australia, it would be the first in 130 years. This will likely require mass slaughter of the animals and could cost up to $80 billion across the country in one year.
A press release from the Victorian government says the new task force will focus on “strengthening the Victorian agricultural workforce to manage the potential social, economic and environmental threat of foot-and-mouth disease.”
“Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, and we must all help protect our agriculture, our economy, and our unique natural environment,” said State Secretary of Agriculture Gail Tierney.
“Risk assessment and preparedness are key factors in ensuring that we can best respond if a positive test is found in livestock in Victoria and we are now doing the work to protect our industry.”
The group will be led by Victorian Chief Executive of Agriculture Matt Lowe and Emergency Commissioner Andrew Crisp, with Chief Veterinary Officer Graeme Cook providing advice.
“FMD is not yet in Australia – and we all need to keep it that way with strong measures to protect the Australian border – but plans need to be kept in place should they ever arise. necessary,” said Dr. Cook.
Originally published as Victoria establishes Animal Disease Emergency Task Force to combat FMD threat