There is a lot in the Australian media right now about Foot & Mouth Disease being present in Indonesian livestock (including in Bali, although Minister for Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo has said this week that the disease has now been successfully contained in Bali), and the threat of this disease being brought back to Australia from tourists retuning from Bali. The below is some frequently asked questions we’ve seen on this topic, and what you need to do if you are travelling from Bali to Australia soon.
What is Foot & Mouth Disease?
Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) is a disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs, sheep, cows, and goats. FMD causes cloven-hoofed animals to get severe blisters and lesions on their mouth and feet. It spreads very quickly amongst animals and the disease is a threat to the Australian livestock industry.
Does FMD affect humans?
Not to be confused with the common childhood illness Hand, Food & Mouth, FMD doesn’t affect humans. Humans however, can pass it on to animals via their shoes, clothes, soiled equipment, or from their noses (where it survives for up to 24 hours) if they have been in contact with an infected animal (or stood in its manure, infected soil etc).
How will FMD affect my time in Bali?
Your time in Bali as far as your holiday goes will not be affected, the island is business as usual (many locals are unaware that FMD is even an issue), there is no shortage of meat or dairy supplies etc.
It will affect you if you are returning to Australia as you will need to take extra precautions when packing, and you will need to declare anything you are brining back to Australia that could be contaminated. Expect to see signage at the airport when you leave Bali reminding you of this, and biosecurity officers and detector dogs on arrival back to Australia. At the airport you will also go through a disinfectant station and walk over a disinfected mat.
What do I need to do if I am travelling back to Australia?
The Australian government is encouraging travellers to “Throw Your Thongs”, meaning to giveaway or throw away the shoes you wore in Bali in the bin prior to heading back to Australia. If disposing of your shoes is not practical, it is asked that you thoroughly clean your footwear and disinfect them before returning to Australia. They are also asking you to launder as many clothes as possible before you return to decrease the risk of carrying the disease back on any of your belongings. Along with shoes and clothing, you should also clean and disinfect any equipment you’ve used in Bali (think tripods, bicycles, backpacks, camping gear etc), and dispose of any meat or dairy products before you depart for Australia. You will need to declare on arrival to Australia on your incoming passenger card if you have visited any rural areas or have been in contact with any farm animals in the past 30 days. If you are carrying any items that may present a possible risk (hiking shoes, camping equipment etc) you will need to present these for inspection on arrival back to Australia also.
What happens if I don’t declare?
If you breach Australia’s biosecurity laws you will be subject to large fines, and if you are a visitor to Australia, your visa may be cancelled.
What should I do with any shoes or clothes I want to leave behind in Bali?
Rather than throwing away any of your belongings you don’t wish to bring back to Australia, why not give them to a local you’ve met during your trip. Bali Hotels Association have also launched an initiative where you can leave any unwanted shoes and clothes with their participating hotels, and they will ensure they are cleaned and made available to communities in need in Bali. More details on this initiative here.
Please let us know if you have any more questions about this topic and we will add them to this article as they come in!
You can keep up to date with any changing advice on the Australian Smart Traveller website here.