Reducing FMD risk at the border
Foot-and-mouth disease could get into New Zealand on contaminated:
- animal products such as meat and milk
- clothing and shoes
To reduce these risks, New Zealand has some of the world's toughest biosecurity measures against FMD.
Imported goods must meet biosecurity requirements
Goods that could present a biosecurity risk must meet strict requirements when they are being imported into New Zealand to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases like FMD. The rules are set out in the relevant import health standard for the imported goods.
Travellers must declare risk goods or activities
Travellers to New Zealand must declare all goods, equipment, and food that could carry unwanted pests or diseases into New Zealand. Travellers must also declare when they have been in contact with livestock. MPI checks any passengers and baggage identified as being at high risk of carrying FMD.
We use public education to encourage travellers to declare or dispose of risk goods before they cross the border. People who forget to declare items or who make false declarations are fined or can be imprisoned.
MPI uses risk assessment, visual inspections, X-ray screening, 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. Containers and goods may need inspection or treatment at transitional facilities before they can be cleared for entry into New Zealand. Transitional facilities are operated by MPI-trained and certified staff.
Domestic laws protect animals from disease
Our laws help to protect the health and welfare of animals and prevent animals being fed food that could spread diseases such as FMD.
For example, it's illegal to feed pigs any untreated meat or food waste that contains or might have contacted raw meat.
On-farm biosecurity protects against FMD
Farmers can help prevent an outbreak of FMD by:
- purchasing stock from reputable suppliers
- keeping overseas visitors away from stock for a week after their last contact with animals or infected places overseas
- developing a simple on-farm biosecurity plan outlining what to do in an outbreak.
Find out more
Why we don’t use vaccines for disease prevention
There are 7 serotypes (strains) of FMD virus, each with many sub-types. Protection against each sub-type requires a different vaccine and only lasts for a short time (months rather than years). To prevent an outbreak, all susceptible animals in a country would need 6-monthly to yearly vaccinations for each sub-type, making this an inefficient and expensive option.
In addition, because we don't have FMD in or near New Zealand, we don't need to use vaccines to prevent an outbreak. It's appropriate and more cost-effective to focus on keeping FMD out of the country. New Zealand is internationally recognised as 'FMD-free without vaccination' – which is one of the reasons why our products usually enjoy a premium in international trade.
Using vaccines if an FMD outbreak occurs
If New Zealand had an FMD outbreak, vaccines could be used to control the spread of the disease. Vaccines help manage an FMD outbreak by reducing how much and how fast the virus spreads.
Vaccines can help slow the spread of disease when given to healthy animals that are at risk of exposure to the virus through contact with infected animals or contaminated objects.
New Zealand has an emergency vaccine manufacturing contract with a ‘vaccine bank’ in the United Kingdom to hold FMD vaccine components in a ready state for our exclusive use.
Should we need a vaccine, the vaccine most suited to whatever FMD strain was circulating here would be manufactured and delivered.
Limitations of FMD vaccines
Vaccines can help manage an FMD outbreak by increasing immunity in animals located in at-risk areas around infected places. But vaccines do have their limitations. They take time to manufacture and distribute, and they are expensive for industry and government.
Vaccines aren't an alternative to slaughtering infected animals. For this reason, all susceptible animals on properties with FMD would still need to be humanely slaughtered to eradicate the disease from New Zealand. We would not vaccinate infected animals, only healthy at-risk animals in areas surrounding infected locations.
There are also strict trade requirements if FMD vaccines are used. If vaccinated animals aren't eventually slaughtered, it takes longer to be officially regarded as FMD-free again for international trade. These factors, along with the size of any outbreak, are important to determine if the use of vaccines will be beneficial in an FMD response.
Who to contact
If you have questions about FMD, email email@example.com