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Animal diseases, human health and food safety

Australia is free of the below listed diseases and has strict biosecurity measures in place to keep it free of these and other animal diseases.

Further information on animal diseases is available on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) website:  Animal pests and diseases.

DAFF advises that unusual disease signs, abnormal behaviour or unexplained deaths in animals should be reported to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Safe food supply 

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), African swine fever (ASF) and Lumpy skin disease (LSD) are animal diseases and are not present in Australia. They do not pose human health concerns. Avian influenza (bird flu, AI) is a global disease of birds and some strains may affect humans. Australia is free from AI according to international animal health standards and actively manages any outbreaks when they sporadically occur.

There is no evidence humans can contract these diseases from consuming commercially produced products from meat, poultry, eggs, milk or dairy products.

If Australia ever had an outbreak of FMD, LSD, ASF or AI, products from affected farms would not be commercially available as all livestock animals must first pass an inspection to ensure they are healthy. For animal products to be sold as food, producing animals must not be a source of food safety concerns and all products must meet strict food safety production requirements.

Any measures that may be associated with one of these diseases undertaken in Australia are for the purposes of livestock disease control.

Any meat, milk or dairy product from a livestock animal that has been vaccinated against any of the diseases (where vaccines are used) in accordance with an approved Australian use remain safe to eat. Vaccines are used to protect the health and welfare of animals. The approved use of such vaccines does not affect the safety of products derived from vaccinated animals. There is no reason to alter consumption of meat, milk and dairy products if vaccination is used in Australia.

This information has been coordinated with the Australian Government Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Health and Aged Care, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, and state and territory governments.

Avian influenza (bird flu)

Avian influenza (AI), particularly high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI), is a viral disease that can cause serious disease and high death rates in poultry. 

AI can transmit from birds to humans, but this is usually sporadic and linked to close contact with infected birds or contaminated environments.

AI is not known to transmit to humans via food and it is safe to eat properly cooked chicken meat and eggs. Proper storage and preparation remain important in reducing risks. Always practice good personal hygiene when handling raw poultry and eggs. See our Food safety basics page.

In 2024 overseas there have been reports of HPAI in dairy cattle and viral fragments in raw milk (see USFDA). Current international advice remains that commercially pasteurised milk products are safe to consume. FSANZ continues to advise that raw milk should not be consumed due to risks from other microbial pathogens. See our raw drinking milk page.

Foot-and-mouth disease

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, buffalo and deer. It spreads through close contact with infected animals and can be carried on animal products, equipment, clothing, shoes, by the wind and feeding of contaminated swill.

FMD is not a food safety concern. It cannot be transmitted to humans through consuming commercially produced meat, milk or dairy products which would continue to be safe to consume in an FMD outbreak.

FMD is not the same as Hand, foot and mouth disease which commonly affects children.

African swine fever

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs.

ASF is spread within domestic pig populations primarily through contact with infected pigs, movement of people or objects that have been in contact with infected pigs and feeding of contaminated swill.

ASF is not a food safety concern. It cannot be transmitted to humans through consuming commercially produced pork products.

Lumpy skin disease

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a viral disease of cattle and water buffalo that does not affect other livestock or humans.

LSD is mostly transmitted by biting insects.

LSD does not pose a risk to human health and is not transmitted through consuming meat or dairy products. 

Commercially produced meat, milk and dairy products would continue to be safe to consume in an LSD outbreak.


Page last updated 17 June 2024