EVIDENCE of footrot is most obvious in spring and now is the best time for farmers to inspect mobs of sheep or goats. Agriculture WA Footrot Eradication Campaign co-ordinator Bob Mitchell said, with continued vigilance, WA would stay on track to eradicate virulent footrot by 2004. Mr Mitchell urged farmers to be on the lookout for signs of footrot and report suspected cases to their local Agwest stock inspector. He said farmers must be extra vigilant if sheep were purchased during the year or if stray sheep had been on their properties. Mr Mitchell said the most obvious sign of footrot was lameness but recommended closer inspection between the toes of some sheep in each mob on the property. "Farmers should look for redness of the skin between the toes, loss of hair and or cheesy, smelly horns," he said. "Most reports turn out to be benign footrot, sometimes called scald, but we would much rather have false alarms than for possible virulent footrot to go unreported and undetected." Mr Mitchell said early reporting of virulent footrot enabled a much better chance of eradicating the disease before other flocks were infected. He said stock inspectors involved in the footrot eradication campaign conducted a wide range of surveillance activities in addition to on-farm inspections at the farmer's request. Footrot surveillance included checking farms that were previously in quarantine and neighbouring flocks, tracings of sheep sold or bought prior to detection of footrot, abattoir surveillance and inspections at clearing sales and saleyards. "Early reporting of suspected footrot by farmers is vital to the success of the state's footrot eradication campaign," Mr Mitchell said. "This response has helped the eradication campaign reduce the percentage of properties in quarantine for virulent footrot in WA from three per cent in 1995 to only 0.7pc in 2000."