Shepparton News - Country News
Seized pork products carried virus traces
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.