Good biosecurity for return to travel
The recent discoveries of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Indonesia, and the insect pest fall armyworm on a small number of properties in five regions in the North Island are timely reminders about the importance of biosecurity readiness and response, and why everyone needs to be vigilant about spotting and stopping unwanted pests and diseases.
New Zealand’s multi-layered biosecurity system includes risk assessment, visual inspections, X-ray screening, scanning technology, and detector dogs to prevent risk goods from being carried into New Zealand by travellers or arriving by mail. All shipping containers and imported goods are assessed for biosecurity risk. But as many of us reengage with the world via business and leisure there are also individual actions we can take to further strengthen the layers of protection against a range of pests and diseases.
Good practices include:
- Before travelling familiarise yourself with the known issues and considerations for the places you are visiting.
- Look for ways to minimise the need to take equipment with you – check if it can be provided in the country you are visiting.
- Thoroughly clear and dry and equipment, gifts, or souvenirs you are returning with.
- Minimise your exposure to animals while travelling – and don’t have contact with farm animals in New Zealand for 7 days after having contact with livestock in another country.
- If you are visiting agricultural production sites and are provided with footwear of protective clothing leave these at the site after your visit.
- If you have been in an environment where your footwear might have been contaminated then remove any organic matter, wash and dry the soles, and if possible, soak them in disinfectant.
- Hotwash or dry clean clothes you’ve worn in places that may have biosecurity risks.
- And remember to not tuck away and forget any fruit in your hand luggage during the rush of travel.
Everyone in the kiwifruit industry or coming to New Zealand to work on an orchard, has a responsibility to manage biosecurity risks when travelling. To assist, KVH has developed a best practice poster to help reduce biosecurity risk after visiting or working on an offshore orchard or farm; and to explain what people can expect at border control when arriving in New Zealand and informing officials of involvement in horticulture.
Some background on FMD for those not familiar with it
FMD is a major concern for those who are part of New Zealand’s livestock industries but would also have economic consequence for the economy as a whole. It is caused by a virus that only infects cloven-hooved animals. An animal is cloven-hooved if its foot is divided in two. In New Zealand this includes cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, alpaca and llama. It is highly contagious and all susceptible animals (whether infected or not) on infected farms would be culled to halt the spread of the infection. FMD caused billions of dollars of losses during an outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001.
Biosecurity New Zealand is closely monitoring the situation, although the risk of FMD entering New Zealand is low, because we have some of the world's toughest biosecurity measures for FMD. The outbreak in Indonesia serves as a further reminder of the importance of good biosecurity to protect New Zealand’s livestock industries. In addition to the confirmed outbreak of FMD, Indonesia is also battling lumpy skin disease, which is spread by biting flies.
Risk pathways for FMD include infected animal products such as meat, and contaminated material on footwear or clothing or equipment.