Foot-and-mouth disease: prevention and preparedness

Page last updated: Friday, 23 September 2022 - 12:45pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

How does FMD spread?

FMD is highly contagious. The virus is present in large amounts in the blisters, saliva, urine, manure, milk and breath of infected animals.

The virus spreads between animals by:

  • direct contact with an infected animal
  • air-borne particles from infected animals
  • movement of infected animals
  • movement of contaminated animal products (such as wool or manure), vehicles, equipment and people.

The virus can remain viable in the environment for several weeks. Low humidity, high temperatures and acidic soils help to inactivate the virus. Virus particles can remain in people’s noses for up to 24-28 hours.

Protect your livestock from FMD

To reduce the risk of FMD occurring in your animals:

  • Do not feed pigs anything that contains or has had contact with meat, meat products or other products from mammals.
  • Prevent feral pigs from accessing your property, or if not practicable, at lease prevent them from accessing on-property disposal sites. Ensure visitors who have had contact with animals in infected countries wear clean clothes and footwear and do not contact Australian livestock for 7 days.
  • If staff are travelling internationally to countries that have diseases such as FMD, businesses should implement biosecurity protocols to ensure staff that have had contact with livestock in these countries do not work with at risk livestock for 7 days after their return.

Other standard biosecurity practices that will help to prevent the introduction of many other diseases, as well as foot-and-mouth disease, include:

  • isolate new animals for 7–10 days
  • keep fences secure to ensure stray animals do not enter
  • have an allocated area away from livestock where contractors/farm visitors park
  • after visiting another farm, clean and disinfect vehicles and footwear and preferably change outer clothes before having contact with your own animals.

Protect your industry by reporting signs of disease early. If you see any signs of FMD:

Good biosecurity practices and early detection are essential to prepare for and reduce the potential impact of FMD and other significant diseases. Producers are urged to exercise vigilance on farm, including being aware of the clinical signs of FMD and reviewing on-farm biosecurity plans.

The Department provides useful biosecurity checklists for livestock producers. See the webpages: Farm biosecurity checklist for sheep producersKeep pigs healthy - follow the biosecurity checklist. The Farmbiosecurity website has a range of biosecurity planning resources to help you prepare an on-farm biosecurity plan as well as preparing your business to survive an emergency animal disease outbreak.

Register your property and meet stock identification and movement requirements

Western Australia has a mandatory livestock ownership, identification and movement system.

If an outbreak occurred, traceability of infected or exposed livestock would be critical for Australia to control and eradicate the disease.

Livestock owners should visit our Livestock ownership, identification and movement in Western Australia webpage to learn more about how to meet these requirements.

Learn more about FMD

For more information about the signs of FMD or FMD prevention, contact your local Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development veterinarian

Australia’s Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN) contains the nationally agreed approach for the response to an outbreak of FMD in Australia.

Also refer to the Emergency Animal Diseases Hub for FMD and lumpy skin diseases, which provides further information and useful resources. 


Contact information

Livestock Biosecurity