Vet Simon's trip to Nepal

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Large Animal Vet Simon was one of 19 participants from around the world who attended the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO), European Union Foot and Mouth disease (EuFMD) Training Course in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The course focused on the management and control of foot and mouth disease (FMD), and understanding the impact of the disease, should it spread to other countries, including Australia.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious virus disease of animals and one of the most serious livestock diseases. It affects cloven-hoofed animals (those with divided hoofs), including cattle, buffalo, camels, sheep, goats, deer and pigs.

The economic effects of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Australia – even on a small scale – would be enormous. It would result in:

  • the immediate closure of many of Australia’s major export markets for livestock and livestock products, and
  • an estimated minimum loss to the national economy of between $2 billion and $3 billion in Gross Domestic Product, rising to between $8 billion and $13 billion for a 12-month outbreak.

For this reason, there is a continued focus on Australia's disease response plans, including new techniques and technologies being taken into consideration, a key purpose for this trip.

While in Nepal the group visited the village of Gaun Bhandari which has been impacted by FMD, to assess the impact of the disease and consider the impact of FMD within the Australian context. 

FMD has significant direct and indirect impacts for individual farmers and their families, communities and the nation as a whole.

For families whose main source of income is livestock production, as was the case in the village visited, the impact of FMD can lead to problems in meeting household expenditure, educating their children, meeting nutritional requirements of family members and  contributes to poverty in many Nepalese communities.

From an Australian perspective, fortunately there is a high level of existing bio-security in place, minimising the risk of FMD coming to Australia. However there is the need to ensure there is a continued awareness of the risk associated with an outbreak of FMD, as well as understand the early stage signs to detect and quickly eliminate FMD should it occur in Australia.