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The challenge

Foot and mouth disease is threatening Australia's agricultural industry

A multi-state FMD outbreak in Australia could cost the Australian economy up to $50 billion over 10 years, primarily due to trade restrictions. The social impacts of the disease will also be significant.

Thankfully, Australia has been free of the disease since 1872 due to stringent pre- and post-border measures. However, many of our neighbours in Asia are not as fortunate, with endemic FMD at a resultant high socio-economic impact.

Due to the risk posed by "FMD endemic" countries and the impact of a FMD outbreak in Australia, we need to ensure the country is prepared for a possible incursion.

Foot and mouth disease wreaks havoc on the economies of countries where it breaks out.

Our response

Improving FMD diagnostic capabilities and research

CSIRO's scientists are helping several countries in the region improve their diagnostic capabilities and research into FMD, which in turn helps us better understand the FMD virus strains circulating in the region.

In collaboration with the national laboratories and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Regional Reference Laboratory for FMD in South East Asia (SEA), the project serves to improve preparedness in the event of an outbreak, through processing infected samples, and performing molecular, cell culture and serological assays to detect and characterise FMD.

The results

Vaccines to protect against new emerging strains

The impact

As vaccination is a key control measure that may be used in the face of an outbreak, CSIRO's research has enhanced Australia's ability to respond to an FMD outbreak and minimise any disruptions due to quarantine and trade restrictions.

The impacts to date from the CSIRO's FMD team research lie primarily in costs avoided from outbreaks of animal diseases, or reduced costs due to earlier containment of outbreaks. Looking at the midpoint of a range of impacts, our estimates suggest that the real research program expenditure of $10.95 million will lead to total benefits (measured as economic loss avoided, in real, present value terms) between $10.36 million and $73.60 million per year, depending on the assumptions made.

Download the impact evaluation report:

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