It’s winter in Australia and for the first time since the pandemic, thousands of people may travel to the Indonesian island of Bali to spend their school holidays in July. But Australian authorities are increasingly concerned and advise tourists to leave their sandals behind in Bali. CNN.
Foot-and-mouth disease is spreading rapidly among cattle in Indonesia, with the first cases confirmed on Tuesday in Bali, a popular tourist destination with direct flights from seven Australian cities.
Officials fear tourists may bring the virus to footwear used on the Indonesian island.
“If foot-and-mouth disease reached Australia it would be a disaster,” said Mark Shipp, head of the country’s Veterinary Institute, which advises the government on how to keep the virus at bay.
Foot-and-mouth disease is harmless to humans, but it causes painful blisters and sores on the mouths and feet of ungulates, including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and camels, preventing them from eating. Death of animals
The disease is considered the biggest biosecurity threat to Australian animals, and an outbreak could lead to mass slaughter of infected animals and shut down the Australian beef export market for years.
“If foot and mouth disease gets here the consequences for farmers will be dire,” said Fiona Simpson, president of the National Farmers Union.
“But it’s not just about farmers. Removing $80 billion from Australia’s GDP would be an economic disaster for everyone,” he added.
Australia has stepped up biosecurity checks at airports, checking luggage for meat and cheese products and warning that dirt on tourists’ shoes could inadvertently cause Australia’s first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 150 years.
Officials are considering foot baths – containers of powerful chemicals that people entering Australia can take to destroy any traces of disease in their shoes. The problem is that the footwear commonly worn in Bali is incompatible with standard biosecurity measures.
“A lot of people coming back from Bali don’t wear boots, slippers or sandals, and you can’t put that chemical on your skin,” Shipp said.
He said officials were considering asking tourists to leave their slippers at places where they were on holiday.
He said if you wear sandals in Bali, leave them in Bali.
The recommendation has not been made official, but it is one of the options being considered, he added.
Bali-based vet Ross Ainsworth says it’s easy for tourists on the island to come into contact with livestock and bring the virus home.
“There are cattle everywhere, and those cattle can get infected and shed the virus,” he said.
The virus can remain active on the sole of a shoe for days — even longer, in low-temperature conditions, the doctor said.
“So if you come out of the villa, step on infected saliva, get in a taxi and fly home, you have a day and a half of potential virus on your leg,” Ainsworth said.
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