Australia and Indonesia commit to fight foot-and-mouth disease outbreak

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Australia’s top agriculture official met with his Indonesian counterpart Thursday to discuss ways to stop an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that has infected hundreds of thousands of cattle in Indonesia and prevent it from spreading. to Australia.

The disease was detected in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and East Java in May and has spread to 20 other provinces, including Bali, in the past two months.

Australian Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Murray Watt met with Indonesian Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo and pledged to support Indonesia’s efforts to contain the spread of the outbreak in Australia’s closest major neighbor.

“Foot and mouth disease would have a significant impact on Australian agriculture if it reached our shores,” Watt said in a statement ahead of his visit. “We are taking practical steps to prevent that.”

Foot-and-mouth disease, an acute and highly contagious viral disease of cloven-footed animals that is sometimes transmitted to humans, is spreading rapidly in Indonesia, which had been free of outbreaks for 32 years, before a reported infection by cattle. imported from India.

Indonesia, struggling to cope with rising numbers, is setting up a task force and ordering the slaughter of more than 3,600 infected cattle.

As of Thursday, more than 366,000 animals have been infected in 22 provinces, mainly on the more populous islands of Java and Sumatra. At least 2,400 animals have died from the disease, according to official data from the National Foot-and-Mouth Disease Task Force.

Limpo said his ministry is working with the National Disaster Mitigation Agency and together they have distributed medicines, antibiotics, vitamins, immune boosters and disinfectants to farmers and breeders.

The government has warned livestock breeders and dealers to ensure that the livestock they sell is free of the disease, ordering slaughterhouses to kill and bury all animals showing symptoms of FMD and to vaccinate the animals. susceptible.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said the government had prepared around 3 million doses of foot-and-mouth disease vaccines, mostly from France. About 500,000 animals have been vaccinated as of Thursday and the country plans to buy 28 million more doses of vaccines to combat the disease, she said.

After meeting with Limpo in Jakarta, Watt said Australia would ship one million foot-and-mouth vaccines to Indonesia in early August and provide a financing package worth A$500,000 ($337,600) to Meat and Livestock Australia. , a Sydney-based producer-owned company providing marketing, research and development services to over 50,000 sheep and goat farmers, to work with Indonesian feedlots and share knowledge.

“This is a very serious disease and it is in both of our interests to control this outbreak,” Watt said at a news conference. “We are taking a series of tough measures at home and we are also working with our friends in Indonesia to make sure that we are working abroad.”

He applauded the Indonesian government’s efforts to combat the contagious disease, especially in Bali, a popular tourist island among Australians. Some farming groups have called for a travel ban between Australia and Bali over fears that tourists could bring the disease home on their clothes and shoes.

During his two-day visit to Indonesia, Watt also plans to meet with the head of the Disaster Mitigation Agency and Indonesian agribusiness leaders.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited Indonesia last month and promised vaccines and technical expertise to help the country combat the foot-and-mouth outbreak.


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