Australia remains free from lumpy skin disease (LSD), according to recent negative test results.
LSD is a severe viral disease primarily affecting cattle and buffalo, not humans and is not transmitted via eating meat.
Instead, it spreads via contaminated equipment and insects or parasites, such as flies, mosquitos, and ticks. The disease could result in animal welfare issues and significant production losses.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and WA, Qld, and NT governments finalised an investigation into Australia’s northern cattle’s health status, including rapid diagnostic testing of 1000 herds. It took place across numerous northern Australian properties spanning the three jurisdictions across a distance of approximately 2,800 km.
Australia Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Beth Cookson said the negative test results highlight the nation’s robust system for animal disease monitoring, including for LSD.
It comes after Indonesia and Malaysia restricted live exports of Australian cattle and buffalo when they announced that exported Australian cattle returned positive LSD results.
However, Dr. Cookson said that Australia would “continue to work closely with our Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts, including engagement at a technical official-to-official level to discuss the next steps.”
Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry Minister Senator Murray Watt confirmed to his Indonesian counterpart Australia’s commitment to this technical work and reaching a timely solution to maintain trade.
“We are awaiting advice from the relevant Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts on lifting their cattle and buffalo import restrictions,” Dr. Cookson said.
The Australian government, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), has provided funding to assist Indonesia with procuring the LSD vaccine following a request from its Agriculture Ministry.
Malaysia Restricting Australian Cattle
Last month, DAFF was advised that Malaysia had temporarily suspended live cattle and buffalo exports from Australia.
Australian Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Mark Schipp said DAFF understood the suspension was based on Indonesia’s advice that they would not accept cattle from four specific export establishments following the detection of LSD in Australian cattle.
Dr. Schipp said DAFF was working to finalise the investigation into the “relevant health status of the cattle herds associated with these establishments to provide the assurances that Indonesia has requested.”
“Australia is urgently engaging with its Malaysian counterparts to confirm our robust animal health system and to advise that LSD is not present in Australia,” he said
Meanwhile, the detection of LSD in Australian cattle post-arrival in Indonesia did not affect the health status of livestock in Australia.
“There is no cause for concern for Australian cattle producers,” Dr. Schripp said.
“Australia has robust biosecurity systems in place for the ongoing monitoring of Australia’s animal disease status, including for LSD.”
A veterinarian inspects all cattle exported from Australia. In addition to this, a DAFF veterinarian will undertake a final verification of the animals exported.
Further, Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) officers carried out feral animal surveys across Cape York in May and June and across the NT in July. However, no evidence of LSD or other exotic animal disease were observed.
Australia Provides Half a Million LSD Vaccines to Indonesia
Earlier this year, the Australian government handed over 500,000 doses of LSD vaccines to Indonesia to combat the spread of exotic animal diseases.
The vaccines were provided to the Indonesian Agriculture Ministry in Jakarta at a handover event on May 17 at the Australian Embassy, with Indonesia’s Agriculture Ministry Animal Health Director Dr. Nuryani Zainuddin and Australian Agriculture Counsellor Mr. Dane Roberts both present.
The vaccines were part of the one million doses DAFF provided to assist Indonesia in controlling LSD.
They supplement the 435,000 LSD vaccines Australia delivered to Indonesia in March 2022 under the Australia-Indonesia Health Security Partnership funded by the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Dr. Cookson said LSD presented significant biosecurity challenges in the region.
Australia’s work in Indonesia is essential to reducing the impact of diseases throughout the region. While these vaccines assist Indonesia in managing the outbreak, they also help reduce the risk of LSD further spreading.
“Australia has been supporting our nearest