While not potentially harmful to us human folk, foot-and-mouth disease could cause extremely serious issues for Australia’s livestock industry. Experts estimate there could be $80 billion worth of damage if the disease makes its way into Aussie farms. So what is foot-and-mouth disease and will it ruin my Bali plans?

What is foot-and-mouth disease?

According to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, foot-and-mouth disease is a “highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs”.

If cattle are infected with foot-and-mouth disease, symptoms usually include blisters in and around the mouth area, drooling, and limping. It’s like they’ve given the animals 15 beers on a night out…

How does foot-and-mouth disease spread?

While humans aren’t harmed by it, we certainly can spread the dang thing. If mud, hair or grass sticks to our clothing or shoes, we could hypothetically bring it into Australia as per Gizmodo.

It can also spread animal-to-animal in processing facilities or while being transported between farms as per Guardian Australia.

If case you needed a reminder, now’s not the time to be smuggling goats through customs in your carry-on.

Where did foot-and-mouth disease come from?

The main source of anxiety in this current outbreak is Indonesia which is why potential Bali tourists getting a little nervy.

The first official cases of this current wave were reported in the Southeast Asian nation back in May.

In 2001 there was also a major outbreak of the disease in the UK. This resulted in six million cattle needing to be slaughtered and burned to avoid further spread according to the BBC.

What is the government doing about foot-and-mouth disease?

Labor Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt has announced the federal government will spend $14 million on its border response to the outbreak.

On the other side of politics, LNP Senator Susan McDonald has called for either a blanket ban or a seven-day isolation period for all returning travellers from the region. Despite her demands, the federal government has dismissed calls for panic.

The new government is walking a political tight-rope at the moment. Indonesia was Anthony Albanese‘s first international visit in the top job in an effort to patch up diplomatic relations.

This is because much of Australia’s future economic, defence and food security interests hinge on a healthy relationship between the two countries.

Management of the outbreak going forward will be a careful balancing act between not pissing off one of the biggest economies in the Asia Pacific region and protecting our own bio-security.

Fun times!

Fingers crossed the Australia/Bali travel route stays very, very open.

Image: Suryanto/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images