A Mt Barker farmer returned last week from a trip to Nepal where he helped advise the Nepalese government on the best way to handle foot-and-mouth disease.
David Slade was selected by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to be part of a 10-member team to visit Kathmandu, joining vets, stock inspectors and other industry representatives from around the country.
“It was to train people to recognise foot-and-mouth disease, the disease hasn’t spread to Australia,” he said.
Mr Slade said if the disease took hold in Australia it would decimate the cattle and sheep industry.
“They would have to shut down Australia’s trade for two years, it would be the worst disaster to affect farmers and Australia as a whole,” he said.
“However, if we had people that could recognise the symptoms, we could contain a small outbreak in six months or a year.”
Mr Slade said problems for the widespread nature of the disease in Nepal included that there were three different strains of the disease and vaccinations only lasted six months.
“We travelled to neighbouring villages and I saw cases of cattle and pigs with FMD,” he said.
Mr Slade said instructors came from as far away as England to teach the group and a lab technician visited from Rome.
Nepalese vets also joined in on the education.
“We presented our findings on the ways of controlling FMD to the agriculture minister of Nepal, he said he would take some of our advice on board,” he said. Mr Slade said after his five-day tour of disease-stricken areas, he had to remain in quarantine in Nepal before returning to his farm in Mt Barker.
He said it was a “real eye-opener” to travel around the country in his remaining week.