A HIGHLY contagious virus - threatening livelihoods - with rigid measures needed to stop it from spreading.
Sounds familiar, right?
Major biosecurity threats - including foot and mouth (FMD) and lumpy skin disease - have been knocking on Western Australia's door in recent weeks, leaving livestock producers on tenterhooks.
Earlier this month, more than 1200 cases of FMD were confirmed in four provinces of East Java including Gresik Lamongan, Sidoarjo and Mojokerto.
The livestock industry was already on high alert, after lumpy skin was first reported in South East Asia in March.
An outbreak of either disease in Australia would trigger immediate export bans and have severe economic consequences.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) estimates a 'small' FMD outbreak - controlled in three months - would cost Australia about $7.1 billion.
Meanwhile, a large 12-month outbreak would cost $16b.
So with an outbreak so close to home, would we be able to cope if a disease was to reach Australian shores?
How important is traceability when it comes to mitigating and managing such diseases?
And could more work and funding be injected into the management of feral animals - which are also susceptible - prior to an outbreak?
WAFarmers livestock president Geoff Pearson said the ball is rolling to develop a disease management plan and strategy in Australia.
Mr Pearson had been communicating with the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) and chief veterinary officer of Australia Mark Schipp this week.
The topic of discussion was what the industry was doing both at a jurisdictional and national level.
"Chief vets are involved, State farming organisations (SFOs) are involved and it is all about communication, awareness and working with all livestock producers to be vigilant about what is approaching us," Mr Pearson said.
"That is as far as we have taken it now and it is just coming in our line of sight."
At an international level, Mr Pearson said industry was working with trading partners to mitigate the risk and eliminate the diseases threatening Australia.
He said FMD and lumpy skin had been classed together and were being treated as one.
Vaccines, location and mitigation were also all part of the work in process.
"As far as feeling prepared - it is still early days, but the wheels are turning and we're starting to gain some traction in every State and jurisdiction," Mr Pearson said.
WHAT CAN LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS DO?
To enhance preparedness to respond to a potential incursion DPIRD has advised producers to:
On the topic of traceability, Mr Pearson said National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) eID systems were working well in Australian cattle, but still need some fine-tuning.
In sheep, he said it was well behind in terms of individual traceability.
"We need to be able to have 100 per cent traceability to prepare ourselves in situations like this," Mr Pearson said.
"That's not only for our own traceability systems, but national and global systems where we need to track and trace our potential incursions of a devastating disease.
"There's never been a time to push harder for individual identification for sheep and other livestock than now."
Feral animals are identified as a potential threat to the maintenance and transmission of many exotic diseases in Australia.
Mr Pearson said feral animals had the potential to devastate an industry as much as an individual farm animal could.
"Where do we lie in this situation?" he said.
"This could be one of the catalysts in the system, which actually brings it unstuck.
"Take the buffalo in northern parts of Australia as an example - they can equally carry and cross infect lumpy skin disease."
Mr Pearson said the feral animal population could not be ignored and an eradication process needed to be established.
He said such a process needed to remove feral animals out of the system, so they were not infecting other animals.
"In the situation we are facing at the moment I don't think feral animals can be exempt," Mr Pearson said.
"More could be done when it comes to feral animal management.
"But in the meantime we need to remain 100pc vigilant in traceability on all of our farm managed animals, which are currently in the system."
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