VICTORIAN vets have gained hands-on foot and mouth disease training on a recent trip to Nepal.
Aiming to better equip the industry to identify and respond to an FMD outbreak, seven Department of Primary Industries vets and animal health staff completed the five-day training trip.
While there hasn't been an outbreak of FMD in Australia since 1872, more outbreaks in the Asian region in recent years and an increase in global trade has increased the threat to Australia, according to DPI disease surveillance project manager Paul Beltz.
Mr Beltz, who undertook the training in December, said even countries with good bio-security, like Korea and Japan, had outbreaks in the past few years.
"Our risk profile has certainly changed over the last decade," he said.
And Victoria is considered the most at risk because of its climate, stock density and multiple entry points.
While Mr Beltz said they were certain there was no FMD in Australia, if it did arrive they wouldn't miss it now.
"FMD is endemic in Nepal so we saw real cases and investigated the outbreak in the Lalitpur region near Kathmandu."
Mr Beltz said the disease had devastating consequences for Nepal, contributing to 4 per cent of all cattle deaths in that country, as well as blocking all international trade.
"Producers must quickly report any suspect symptoms so we can achieve early detection," he said.
"The big issue is, if Australia got FMD we would lose all export markets immediately."
Victorian Farmers Federation livestock councillor Geoff Fisken said the practice of swill feeding was one of the greatest risk factors to Australia.
"If a livestock owner feeds infected scraps of food to their animals, the disease could spread like wildfire," he said.
The renewed drive for FMD prevention comes from the Matthews Report, released in October 2011, which stated a 12-month outbreak could cost the Australian livestock and meat processing industry $16 billion.
Even a small FMD outbreak, lasting for three months, is estimated to cost $7 billion.