African swine fever risk: Vietnamese tourist sent home

Vietnamese tourist sent home after illegal pork imports

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Farmers have backed moves to stop tourists from potentially bringing African swine fever into Australia.

Farmers have backed moves to stop tourists from potentially bringing African swine fever into Australia.

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Farmers have backed moves to stop tourists from potentially bringing African swine fever into Australia.

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A VIETNAMESE visitor was turned back at Sydney international airport on Saturday after biosecurity officers discovered 4.6kg of uncooked pork in her luggage.

The officers were operating under new visa cancellation legislation aimed to protect Australia's pork producers and stop from African swine fever entering the country.

Queensland Farmers' Federation president Stuart Armitage said the highly infectious and contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs was currently spreading through Europe and Asia.

It would cause devastating economic losses for Australia's pork industry if it got through our borders, he said.

The most significant risk of entry of African swine fever into Australia is through illegally imported contaminated pork products that are swill fed to domestic pigs or accessed by feral pigs - Stuart Armitage, QFF

"The most significant risk of entry of ASF into Australia is through illegally imported contaminated pork products that are swill fed to domestic pigs or accessed by feral pigs," Mr Armitage said.

"(Agriculture Minister) Bridget McKenzie has shown a strong resolve for improving our country's biosecurity system, and with more than 27 tonnes of pig products arriving in Australia since January this year, 50 per cent of which was carrying ASF, it is needed.

"The biosecurity risks to our animal and plant industries are real and it is imperative that all Australians and visitors adhere to biosecurity requirements both on-farm and in general and report suspected breaches to their respective state biosecurity bodies immediately."

Mr Armitage said Queensland remained Australia's frontline biosecurity state, meaning effective government, public and industry partnerships were critical to maintaining the nation's relative pest, disease and weed freedom.

"With the number of biosecurity interceptions showing no sign of reducing, we must maintain vigilance and continue to remind everyone that they have a general biosecurity obligation and a role to play," he said.

According to Animal Health Australia, ASF has been present in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1990s, and increasingly found in eastern Europe since 2016.

Since 2018, ASF has moved into Western Europe (notably Belgium) for the first time, and into Asia. It continues to move quickly through South East Asia over the past few months, with cases being confirmed in China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, North Korea, South Korea, the Philipines and, most recently, Timor Leste.

In its most severe form, up to 100pc of pigs may be affected and die. There is no treatment or vaccine available.

Suspected African swine fever should be reported to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or theEmergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.

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