Indonesia is the latest country to fall prey to African swine fever. Last week the Minister of Agriculture announced the confirmation of an ASF outbreak in North Sumatra Province. Since late September, increased pig mortality has been reported in North Sumatra and some other provinces.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is liaising with the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services. The Director of Animal Health requested FAO to provide recommendations on containment and control of ASF in the event that the disease is confirmed as present in the country. The FAO team is drafting recommendations on ASF control, appropriate to conditions in Indonesia.
Australia Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie says the news is concerning, especially as Indonesia, and particularly Bali, is so popular with Australian tourists.
"There are about 188 flights a week from Indonesia direct into Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin," McKenzie says. "Bali is a favorite holiday destination for Australians and it's also a region with a lot of pigs.
"Our government foresaw the threat this disease posed and just last week I announced an extra $66.6 million to put 130 more biosecurity officers at our airports to do half a million more passenger screenings and deploy an extra six detector dogs.
"My department has already raised the risk status of flights from Indonesia and is increasing screening, interventions and scrutiny of travelers in line with the procedures we use to manage flights arriving from other ASF affected countries. I'd appeal to anyone traveling between Australia and Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia to be extra diligent about declaring what they're bringing back in—and to clean shoes and any other outdoor equipment.
"We have a zero-tolerance approach to people who lie about what they have in their luggage and we've refused entry to Australia for six people caught with biosecurity risk material.
"If returning Australians do the same, they could face criminal prosecution or civil court action, and be ordered to pay up to $420,000 and be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail. That is how seriously we're taking this threat.
"In less than a year we've seized 32 tonnes of pork from air travelers and recent testing showed that about 50% of seized product contained African swine fever."