Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) and Foot Mouth Disease (FMD) Backgrounder

June 2022

Overview: LSD and FMD are now on Australia’s doorstep LSD was discovered in January and FMD in April this year. Both are highly infectious and lead to market access issues and closures. The mortality of livestock with either disease is low. FMD is the worst, with losses within a feedlot system close to 30% to 50% and extensive grazing close to 1% to 5% losses. Young calves losses can be as high as 20% or greater. Both are considered highly contagious and have shown airborne transmission.

Uncertainty exists around how each disease got into Indonesia, with LSD likely to have been spread by biting insects from nearby infected countries and FMD from illegally smuggled livestock. The serotype of the FMD strain has been identified as IND20001 – which says that its origins were from India. This recent announcement has local cattle breeders pointing the finger at imported buffalo meat as a potential source of FMD and is seeking buffalo imports to be banned.

History: The last major outbreak of FMD was in the UK in 2001, and in Indonesia, it was 1986. The cost and devastation of FMD to the UK livestock industry was estimated to be £8 billion and took over a year to contain. There has been no known large supplier of export beef to have LSD before, so there is no precedent to fall back on.

At the time, there were almost 2,000 cases, with more than six million sheep and cattle killed to stop the disease. LSD has been spreading through Asia since early 2021, where countries infected have doubled from six to twelve.

Trade restrictions: Both diseases have significant trade restrictions, LSD is likely to have two countries close due to infection, namely South Korea for a minimum of three years and China. There is no precedent, so it is unclear how many countries would impose a ban. FMD would initially lead to a complete ban on Australian beef exports leaving them to seek regionalization agreements with key trading partners. Japan has not allowed regionalization regarding animal disease issues in the past. Korea has regionalized pork for Brazil over FMD, requiring that zones be FMD free without vaccination for a year, but shipments remain nil. The U.S. has regionalized beef imports from Brazil under regionalization agreements that regions be FMD free WITH vaccination. Australia currently exports around 65% of their beef production.

There is also risk that Indonesia could halt Australian live cattle imports as a means to reduce cattle supplies and seek to reduce disease spreading. Such a move would prompt stronger imports of boxed beef from all suppliers.

Industry risks: There are multiple risks – FMD is likely to be spread from Australian tourists to Bali, pre-covid 1.3 million Australians vacated in Bali. Given the large number of cattle and pigs and other small stock in Bali, holidaymakers could carry FMD back to Australia   unknowingly. A second concern is LSD and should it spread into East Timor and Papua New Guinea. Then it is likely that it could be spread as an airborne disease. In particular, the spreading  during the monsoon seasons when strong northern winds could carry LSD to northern parts of Australia. No    different to Bluetongue disease, which is known to have outbreaks each monsoon season.   Simon Quilty


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