Officials in Australia and New Zealand are developing a trans-Tasman action plan for defending against and responding to foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the region. According to an article in the New Zealand Herald, the two countries recognize the threat the disease poses to livestock production and rural economies in the region and plan to work more closely.

The region has been free of FMD for many years, but the Australian government estimates a severe outbreak could cost the country $16 billion.

FMD outbreaks have occurred in several Pacific Rim countries in recent years, including Taiwan in 1997, Japan in 2010 and South Korea in 2011.

According to the article, Australia and New Zealand plan the following steps in their regional effort:

  • Share intelligence on emerging animal health risks facing the region.
  • Develop and improve training activities and FMD detection capabilities, including training in exotic animal disease recognition and participating in joint exercises.
  • Share and compare economic and disease models of FMD to inform management strategies.
  • Collaborate on policy development, approaches and operational plans for vaccination and carcass disposal.
  • Participate in simulation exercises to explore how each country could support response efforts in the event of an incursion.