Australia on Wednesday stepped up protection against foot-and-mouth disease at its international airports following an outbreak of the disease in Indonesia.
Travelers arriving in Australia from Indonesia will now be asked to walk across sanitation foot mats at airports, the latest measure to ramp up Australia’s biosecurity measures, the government said.
The mats will contain a citric acid solution designed to dislodge any dirt from the sole of the shoe and cover it in the acid.
The move comes after foot-and-mouth viral fragments were detected in meat goods that came into Australia recently from Indonesia and China, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said at a news conference.
“We have detected foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever viral fragments in a small number of pork products for sale in the Melbourne CBD that were imported from China,” Watt said, adding that these were detected during routine checks.
“In addition to this a passenger traveling from Indonesia has in recent days been intercepted with a beef product that they didn’t declare which tested positive for foot-and-mouth disease viral fragments," he added.
These viral fragments are not live and cannot be transmitted, he said.
Watt also said despite these findings Australia remains foot-and-mouth disease free.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs but does not pose a threat to humans. Government modeling projects a widespread foot-and-mouth outbreak in Australia would have an estimated direct economic impact of around AU$80 billion ($55.3 billion).