Australia is a significant livestock producer and a major exporter of livestock, livestock products and livestock genetic material. An outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) would have severe economic consequences on the economy. A recent study found that in an outbreak lasting six months, real gross domestic product in Australia would fall by an estimated 0.6% (AUS$3.5 billion), employment by 0.8%, and a depreciation of 3% would be recorded in the exchange rate in the first year. Much of this impact would be due to the loss of export markets. Given the significant consequences of an outbreak of FMD, Australia invests considerable resources in prevention and planning. These measures can be viewed at three levels, namely: pre-border, border and post-border. Australia recently further enhanced quarantine at the border to minimise the risk of entry of FMD. However, no matter how much is invested, there is no guarantee that FMD will not enter the country. Accordingly, it is important to ensure that comprehensive contingency plans are also in place. Recent outbreaks in previously free countries have shown that a large outbreak of FMD poses major problems for the animal health services of a country and a combined government and industry response is required.
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