Potential effects of a foot-and-mouth outbreak

Find out how an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease would affect everyday life in New Zealand.

Humans are safe from foot-and-mouth disease

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is an animal health disease and is not considered a risk to human health. Infection in humans is extremely rare with only minor symptoms documented.

FMD would affect employment and economy

If New Zealand had an outbreak of FMD, red meat, pork and dairy exports would stop until the disease was eradicated. This could take several months or more and would result in less work for people who provide agricultural services. An outbreak would be financially and emotionally stressful for rural communities.

New Zealand's meat, animal product and dairy production would drop until industries recovered, affecting related businesses and the New Zealand economy.

Economic impact of FMD on New Zealand [PDF, 840 KB]

MPI would work with other agencies to reduce the impacts on employment and the economy.

Effects on travel and transport

If New Zealand had an outbreak of FMD, movement of:

  • susceptible animals, semen and embryos would be stopped across the entire country until further notice. A permit would be required for any proposed movement 
  • animal products would be restricted in very high-risk areas
  • vehicles, equipment and people may be subject to restrictions and treatment requirements.

These movement restrictions would help us contain the disease and speed up New Zealand's recovery from the outbreak. Many people living in New Zealand would be affected by the restrictions. If an FMD outbreak occurred, the MPI website would provide up-to-date details of restrictions.

Learn about restrictions during an FMD outbreak

Food would be safe

If New Zealand had an outbreak of FMD, commercially produced food and drink made from susceptible animals would be safe to eat and drink.

Pet owners

Foot-and-mouth disease only affects cloven-hoofed animals like cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer and llama. Pets such as horses, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, reptiles or guinea pigs are not affected. However, horses would need to be kept out of pastures where FMD occurred, as they could spread the virus through contaminated mud on their hooves.

If an outbreak occurred, most pets could be fed the same food as usual. Dog owners would need to check movement restrictions before walking their pet through rural areas to avoid spreading the virus.

Who to contact

If you have questions about FMD, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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