Lumpy skin disease is not yet close enough to Australia to 'blow in' but Australian epidemiologists are flat out modeling likely pathways in an effort to put livestock industries on the front foot.
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National Animal Disease Preparedness Coordinator Dr Chris Parker, from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said given the disease was spread by vectors, its march across the globe would continue.

Australian work with weather patterns was attempting to determine the most likely places it might land on our soil, he said.

“There is a range of other things to consider in this space – what stocking densities would have to exist in the north to see the establishment of LSD, and indeed foot and mouth disease,” he said.

“We also need to understand the survivability of the LSD virus on the mouth part of the biting insect, and the probability of insects traveling in a cyclone.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s dairy industry is about to embark on a study looking at the effect of pasturisation on LSD and its effectiveness as a kill point of the disease.

Dairy Australia’s Charles McElhone said this would be an important piece of work that would play a role feeding into the market access process in the event of an outbreak.

While producers have expressed fears about LSD reaching Papua New Guinea, Dr Parker said there was not a great number of cattle there, so FMD reaching PNG would be more of a concern, given the pig population.

It has become very clear that Australian farmers themselves are the front line to defending against FMD.

Mr Parker said the most likely pathway for FMD entering Australia was via infected meat or infected animals, either of which would then need to make contact with a susceptible animal in Australia

Red Meat Advisory Council chair John McKillop said Australia has close to zero risk via the live animal trade.

Swill feeding of pigs and people who have been to countries where there is FMD returning to farms and not following appropriate biosecurity measures were the main risks, he said.

The quality rating of domestic dairy products has remained above 99 percent for six consecutive years, experts said at a webinar.

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