Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Australia

Posted on by PETA Australia

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has been detected in animal-derived products in Australia.

Viral fragments of the disease were identified in imported meat in Melbourne during a “routine retail surveillance” exercise. The flesh also contained fragments of African swine fever.

The discovery comes after the disease broke out in Indonesia in May, with more than 200,000 cases recorded across its provinces. Previously, Indonesia had been free of the disease for 30 years.

a cow in a truckanimalrightsphotography

Why Is the Discovery of FMD Concerning?

FMD is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection. It affects cloven-hoofed animals including cows, buffaloes, camels, sheep, goats, and pigs.

Symptoms include fever followed by the appearance of fluid-filled blisters between the toes, on the heels, on mammary glands, and especially on the lips, tongue, and palate. These blisters can be so painful that animals can become lame and unable to eat or drink.

Younger animals can be left permanently deformed or die.

FMD can survive on many inanimate objects, such as flesh products and skins, equipment used on animals, and clothing and shoes – which is why the Australian government has implemented strict biosecurity measures for travellers from Indonesia to Australia.

The reason this outbreak has the agriculture sector so worried is because it would mean killing infected animals before humans have had a chance to profit from their flesh, secretions, and skin.

The real victims of this disease are other animals, not the industries that planned to profit from their bodies.

What Causes FMD?

FMD is one of an increasing number of diseases that gestate and spread in the appalling conditions in which animals are factory farmed.

Even before the Indonesian outbreak, a group of experts led by Australia’s chief veterinarian Dr Mark Schipp found that the risk of a major animal-disease outbreak in Australia is increasing, with an estimated 42% probability the country will experience one in the next five years.

Overwhelmingly, human diseases, too, start with the abuse of animals. The appropriation of animals’ habitats has led to viruses such as COVID-19, Hendra, and Ebola. The 2009 H1N1 epidemic started in pigs. Measles originally came from cattle, and whooping cough from dogs. A professor of communicable disease control at the University of Queensland said of the growth of pathogens that spill over to humans, “The most significant driver of emergence is food production.”

What’s the Solution?

Today’s news, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and consistent warnings from experts about future viral outbreaks among farmed animals should be a wake-up call: whenever you breed animals for their flesh, secretions, or skins, you risk unleashing deadly diseases on all animals, including humans.

Directing travellers to clean their shoes does nothing to strike at the root of this problem. Only ending the exploitation of animals can do that.

It’s always a great time to go vegan, but now that both FMD and African swine fever have arrived in Australia, the necessity of moving away from animal agriculture and towards a plant-based food system is clearer than ever.

The problems are enormous, but the solution is simple: we need to stop breeding and slaughtering animals. Do your part by going vegan today.