Australia is struggling to prevent a foot and mouth outbreak from coming into the country from hundreds of travelers returning home from Bali every day. Daily Mail reported that an outbreak could cost the economy $80 billion and could raise the prices of nearly everything.

Source: ABC News (Australia)/Youtube

The scare comes after viral fragments of foot and mouth disease and African swine fever were found in port products at a Melbourne retailer. Although the live virus was not detected, the government has reiterated the importance of biosecurity measures.

According to Senator Watt, this is the first time viral fragments have been detected in a retail setting. The government is scrambling to ensure that they do not have an outbreak like the devastating 2001 outbreak in the U.K that led to 6 million animals being euthanized.

The disease was recently detected in Bali, which is a popular vacation destination for Australians, and Indonesia has been attempting to control the possible spread. Amid fear for their animals, many farmers have called for an immediate ban on travel to and from Bali.

The virus was first detected in February 2001, and piles of dead livestock were burned to stop the spread. The outbreak cost the British economy $19 billion.

Source: vanessa beeley/Youtube

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease that causes illness in cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and other animals with divided hooves, according to the USDA. It however does not affect horses, dogs, or cats. This disease is not related to hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is a common childhood illness caused by a different virus.

FMD is caused by a virus that survives in living tissue and in the breath, saliva, urine, and other excretions of animals. It can survive in contaminated materials and the environment for several months under certain conditions. There are seven known types and over 60 subtypes of the FMD virus. However, immunity to one type does not protect an animal against other types or subtypes.

Back in 2001, regardless of their health, animals on farms had to be euthanized. The carcasses were burned, and towards the end of the outbreak, they were buried in a huge pit in the ground.

Outbreaks in the livestock industry are nothing new. Recently, there have been numerous avian flu outbreaks all over the world due to the modern practices of factory farms.

The price of poultry and eggs skyrocket every time there is an outbreak. Most recently, it cost the industry more than $3 billion, and nearly 50 million birds were killed. But just as the government always does, it protected this cruel industry and compensated farms for the lost flock.

The government could be spending that money to prevent future outbreaks by changing factory farming practices and making the bird population more diverse. The real issue is the way that commercial factory farms run. The industry relies on genetically identical animals confined in inhumanly small spaces. It is now estimated that all nine billion chickens raised and slaughtered in the U.S. each year can trace their lineage back to a handful of breeds.

These chickens have been manipulated over generations to grow at incredibly unnatural speeds and become larger than they ever have. According to The Humane League, chickens today are more than four times the size they were just 60 years ago. The lack of genetic diversity poses a massive threat to the industry and makes the animals more susceptible to outbreaks of all kinds. It is a threat to public health.

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