Shepparton News - Country News

Seized pork products carried virus traces

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African swine fever and footand-mouth disease virus fragments have again been detected in pork products seized at Australia’s internatio­nal mail centres.

Federal Agricultur­e Minister David Littleprou­d said foot-andmouth disease (FMD) was considered the biggest animal disease threat to Australia’s agricultur­e.

“An outbreak of FMD in Australia would lead to the closure of major livestock, beef, lamb, dairy and pork export markets with serious economic and social effects in other sectors, including tourism,” Mr Littleprou­d said.

He said studies had estimated a large multi-state outbreak of FMD in Australia could result in economic losses of $50 billion over 10 years and an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) could cost Australia between $1.5 billion and $2.03 billion over five years.

“Pork products were seized at internatio­nal mail centres in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne over two two-week periods over recent holidays,’’ Mr Littleprou­d said.

“Overall, 24 per cent of samples tested positive for ASF virus fragments and one per cent tested positive for FMD virus fragments.”

Victoria’s acting chief veterinary officer Sally Salmon said the recent detections by the Commonweal­th highlighte­d how easily diseases and pests could enter Australia and urged all Victorians to be aware of biosecurit­y risks.

“Whether it’s in someone’s luggage or in the mail, bringing in food, especially meat products, can also bring in diseases like African swine fever or even foot-andmouth disease, which could devastate Australia’s agricultur­al industries and the broader economy for many years,” Dr Salmon said.

“It’s not enough to rely on quarantine inspection­s to stop potential pests and disease threats at our borders.

“When buying food and other goods online, always consider where they are coming from and whether they will meet biosecurit­y requiremen­ts before ordering them. Biosecurit­y requires responsibl­e actions by everyone.

“We all need to help protect our agricultur­e, our economy and our unique natural environmen­t.”

In December 2020, 19 of 94 pork samples tested positive for ASF virus fragments and none tested positive for FMD virus fragments.

Between January and February, 29 of 104 pork samples tested positive for ASF virus fragments and two of 104 pork samples tested positive for FMD virus fragments.

“While these results do not confirm live infectious virus is present, it is a reminder that we need everyone to be more vigilant,” Mr Littleprou­d said.

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