Australian officials deny lumpy skin outbreak amid cattle import restrictions

Officials have denied that lumpy skin disease is present in northern Australia after Indonesia further restricted live cattle imports from the country.

Australia’s acting Chief Veterinary Officer Beth Cookson said in a statement on Monday that testing of more than 1,000 cattle across 2,800 km of northern Australia did not detect any trace of lumpy skin disease (LSD).

Characterized by blistered skin, LSD is transmitted between animals by contaminated equipment or insect bites and can cause a significant drop in milk production, poor growth and infertility among cattle.

She said the testing was undertaken at the request of authorities in Indonesia and Malaysia after LSD was detected in Australian-origin cattle after arriving in Indonesia.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported earlier on Monday that Indonesian officials on Saturday restricted imports from two cattle yards in Western Australia (WA) after detecting eight cases of LSD in cattle imported from the area.

In July, exports from four facilities were suspended when Indonesian authorities found 13 cases of LSD in Australian exported cattle.

However, Cookson said in the statement there was no evidence that the cattle were infected in Australia.

“Our testing did not detect LSD in Australia and our disease status has not changed,” she said.

“The negative test results further highlight Australia’s robust systems for the ongoing monitoring of animal diseases, including LSD.”

According to reports in News Corp Australia newspapers on Tuesday, Cookson will meet with Indonesian officials on Thursday to discuss lifting the suspensions.

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