Animal and Plant Disease

Animal and Plant Disease

What are Animal and Plant Emergencies?

Animal and Plant emergency events can be triggered by an unlimited number of factors which include but are not limited to; the accidental or deliberate importation of diseases or species, urbanisation of rural areas, agroterrorism (extreme activists) and the intensification of agriculture. Climate change can also increase the risk of pests and diseases developing.

Animal and Plant emergencies occur when any of the below are adversely impacted:

  • animal health
  • plant health
  • weed and pest animal control
  • aquatic pest management
  • food safety
  • rural chemical operations

What is Bio Security?

Biosecurity is a shared responsibility between government, industry and the community which manages the risks to Australia posed by animal and plant pests and diseases, food borne illnesses, and misuse of rural chemicals.

South Australia is lucky to be free from many of the world’s worst animal diseases and most damaging plant pests, it is widely accepted that all South Australians can contribute to maintaining a positive biosecurity status. The economy in South Australia is dependent on the trade of plant and animal products which means the biosecurity system is always going to face significant challenges such as increasing passenger numbers and the cargo containers arriving daily at our Airports and Ports.

It is important for the economy of Town of Galwer that the biosecurity system remains successful as it allows us to protect the integrity of our environment, maintain our favourable pest and disease status and protect the productivity of our primary producers.

What can I do?

Disaster Resilience-Animal Disease


The National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, developed by the Council of Australian Governments, provides high-level guidance on disaster management to agencies with a role in emergency management. Foremost in the Strategy is the principle of all of society taking responsibility for preventing disasters.

In the context of Animal and Plant disease:

Individuals Travelling to the Town of Gawler
It is everyone's responsibility to keep animals and plants free from pests and diseases. All people, animals and items coming into the country are subject to import requirements which extend to:

Individuals as Residents of the Town of Gawler
To increase community resilience, individuals should actively plan and prepare for protecting their own animals and plants. This can be done by identifying destructive plant pests and diseases and reporting outbreaks. Resilience is also increased by knowing and being involved in local community arrangements, and volunteer roles. Biosecurity awareness is especially important for:

  • Agriculture and farm workers (including fruit pickers and backpackers)
  • Small scale landholders
  • Importers of goods, including items purchased online
  • Pet owners
  • Members of the community who may observe something unusual

Government agencies, local governments and communities
Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) manages the risks posed by animal and plant pests and diseases in South Australia. However, all individuals should be aware of their own animal and plant risks and should follow advice given by PIRSA when responding to warnings.

Organisations should include animal and plant risk within their Community Emergency Risk Assessment activities. This includes consideration within emergency management planning and land use planning. Government and industry and research bodies perform research in order to understand pest behaviour so they can plan better control methods. These methods include surveillance, detection and eradication. The success of biosecurity operational activities often depends on support from the community. Because effective community engagement requires capacity to act, a pre-existing relationship, and includes mutual learning these elements will almost certainly take time to achieve.

Vulnerable people
There are many groups of potentially vulnerable people (e.g. older adults or people with disabilities) whose unique needs may not be accounted for in animal disease emergency plans, this is especially so if they are reliant on companion animals to perform everyday tasks.

Vulnerable people require more attention when they are experiencing an Emergency situation compared to everyone else. Planning to help friends and relatives who are considered vulnerable contributes greatly to emergency resilience in communities.

Private Industry and Businesses
Industry groups have a critical role in preventing, preparing for, and responding to outbreaks that affect them. They should understand the risks that they face and ensuring that they are able to continue providing services during or soon after a disaster.

Businesses should plan for the risk of disruption, and ensure arrangements are in place to maintain critical services where required. The links below are designed to help businesses plan for emergency situations:
Business Continuity plans – A quick guide to impact analysis and plan development
Plan and prepare – State Government advice on how to protect your business

For additional information about Animal and Plant Disease:
SA GOV - PIRSA Webpage - Current Alerts - News and Events
SA GOV - Department of Agriculture and Water Resources - Animal Pests & Diseases
SA GOV - National Pest and Disease Outbreaks
SA GOV - Emergencies and Safety - Animal and Plant Disease
SA GOV - Information on Marine Pests


Disaster Resilience-Animal Disease


Things you can do now to prepare for Animal and Plant Disease

Understand the impacts of disease outbreaks
A major outbreak of an animal or plant disease could cost billions of dollars in lost earnings. It could affect farmers, their produce and livelihoods. Exotic pests and diseases may also put at risk the state's reputation for producing premium food and wine, and risk trade overseas and locally.

Biosecurity measures help protect South Australia from animal and plant pests and diseases. It's about managing pests and disease from entering, emerging, establishing and spreading in the state. Every year, the state government spends about $5 million keeping fruit fly and other plant pests out of the state.

Animal and Plant Disease Notifications
Register here for biosecurity alerts to be sent directly to you

Household Plans
The South Australian Emergency Management Sector encourages every household, business and farm to have a written emergency plan

It is worthwhile having a plan for what you would do if your usual ways of getting groceries, petrol or medical supplies are disrupted for several days. Here are some suggestions of things you can do to prepare for animal and plant disease outbreak:

  • Protect your animals and plants from pests and diseases
  • Volunteer as a pest monitor
  • Comply with biosecurity warnings
  • Maintain boundary fences
  • Buy seeds and plants from a supplier that you know practises good biosecurity
  • Control pests in backyard fruit trees and regularly inspect your orchard, crop or garden
  • Report suspected exotic pests, weeds or diseases to the Exotic Plan Pest Watch Hotline on 1800 084 881 or your nearest Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) office

Feral animals
You can assist in feral animal eradication by contributing to the Department of Industry and Science by mapping feral animal sightings in your area. Look out for:

  • Feral deer, foxes, goats and pigs
  • Mice and wild rabbits
  • dogs and cats

For those who keep livestock:
Remember that even if you are a small scale landowner and only have a single animal, under the Livestock Act 1997 if you buy, sell, take in and feed, loan or borrow any livestock or poultry you must register your property (applies to livestock, including horses) and tag your animals (applies to cattle, sheep and goats).

  • Request animal health statements before any livestock arrive
  • Keep newly arrived animals isolated from existing livestock for two weeks
  • Watch your animals closely for any signs of disease
  • Register your property for a Property Identification Code
  • Ensuring cattle, sheep and goats are tagged with a National Livestock Identification device
  • Regularly inspect animals and report any unusual symptoms to your local vet or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888
  • Never feed swill to pigs, or anything containing meat or meat products to ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer)

The links below will help you further assess your situation and prepare:
Wildlife Health Australia
Hendra virus in horses - Department of Agriculture
Control rabbits, foxes and deer - SA Natural Resources
Fruit fly - for gardeners - Plant Health Australia


Disaster Resilience-Animal Disease


During an outbreak
When an outbreak occurs PIRSA will provide you with instructions on specific measures to follow.

PIRSA advice may include the following measures:

  • Don't move animals or birds, onto or off the property
  • Isolate (quarantine) suspect animals in well fenced paddocks, yards, buildings, pens or cages
  • Some diseases are airborne so keep your stock away from the boundary of the property
  • Avoid the movement of people, vehicles, equipment, manure and soiled litter, and product (milk and wool) on and off the property
  • If dealing with suspect animals, clean and disinfect afterwards (including any gear or equipment that the animal has had contact with
  • Clean boots, clothes and equipment that has been worn or used at the site to remove contaminated soil, manure and plant material

Visit the PIRSA website or for the latest on pest and disease outbreaks in South Australia.

Who do I Contact?
There is an ongoing need to practice good biosecurity and report the first signs of disease. Notifiable diseases are animal diseases that are a national threat, and by law must be reported. Follow any advice or directions given.

Farmers Markets
There are a number of farmers markets in the Council area which provide a great opportunity for farmers to sell fresh products direct to the consumer. It is acknowledged that these gatherings are potentially a vehicle for the spread of animal and plant pests and diseases.

In addition to standard biosecurity practices, participants at farmers’ markets should also adopt the following biosecurity measures.

  • Don’t share equipment with other stall holders without ensuring it is clean and free of soil and contaminants. Wash and disinfect containers and equipment between each use
  • Don’t put other stall holders’ products in with yours, keep them separate
  • Ensure the produce you sell is fresh and of high quality
  • Brush or wash fruit and vegetables to remove soil before selling
  • When you get home:
    • Clean your equipment then wipe it over with household disinfectant
    • Keep an eye out for, and immediately report any signs of animal or plant disease
  • Where possible use new egg cartons when selling eggs as pre-used cartons can help spread disease. If you need to use pre-used cartons, keep them away from birds. Always wash your hands after handling the cartons, and before handling your birds
  • Always practice good personal hygiene and cleanliness when handling fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs at your stall as disease can be carried on clothing, footwear and skin

Report any observed issues to:
Exotic Plant Pest Hotline1800 084 881
Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline1800 675 888

Visit the Farm Biosecurity Website for free on-farm biosecurity information and resources
Find more information on Fruit Fly and the Home Garden here

For Pets
If you observe signs of illness in your pets, contact your local vet. Look out for these symptoms in your animals (including birds and livestock):

  • Sores or ulcers
  • Excessive dribbling from the mouth
  • Diarrhoea, especially with blood
  • Large discharges from any orifice such as the nose
  • Not eating properly or off their feed
  • Dramatic decreases in production such as milk from cows or eggs from chickens
  • Non-responsive animals or inability to rise
  • Staggering or head drooping
  • Severe lameness
  • Swollen heads
  • Unexplained deaths

For Wildlife
If you think you have seen unusual signs of disease in livestock or birds, or suspicious deaths in wildlife you can report it to:

For Aquatic Animals
It is important that aquatic animal diseases are identified early to protect the sustainability of commercial and recreational fisheries, the productivity of aquaculture industries, access to international markets for Australian seafood industries, and aquatic environments.

Contact FISHWATCH on 1800 065 522

Find out more
Aquatic Animal Diseases 
Marine pests

For Plants (including crops and trees)
Look out for these symptoms:

  • Unexplained plant death
  • Die-back of shoot-tips
  • Failure of plants to thrive such as a reduction in growth or low production
  • Low germination rates
  • Yellow, black, brown or orange spots on leaves
  • Unusual markings or colouration on leaves or fruit such as yellowing
  • Leaf curling
  • Galls where insects have laid eggs
  • Early fruit drop
  • Sticky bacterial ooze on the surface of shoots
  • Blossom blight where blossoms appear water-soaked and turn brown or black
  • Shoot blight
  • Fruit flies or maggots in fruit and vegetables

Phone the Emergency Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 or contact your nearest PIRSA office to report plant pests, pests of bees, diseased plants or new weeds

For Fruit Fly sightings call the Fruit Fly Hotline on 1300 666 010

To find out more visit Pest animals and weeds in Australia

For Livestock
The Farm Biosecurity website offers a range of free on-farm biosecurity information and resources for hobby farmers, right through to those on large-scale farming enterprises. You can even create your own farm profile and resource toolkit based on the livestock and crops you have on your property.

The Livestock Biosecurity Network is a collaborative initiative which provides livestock producers with tools and information to manage endemic and exotic diseases, as well as pest and weed incidents on their farms.

Private Industry and businesses
In response to specific outbreaks businesses have the opportunity to take part in decision making processes as long as they are signatories to the relevant deed or agreement. A number of agreements and deeds are in place with regard to Animal and Plant disease and more information on each can be found below:

The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement
The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed
National Environmental Bio-security Response Agreement

Response plans:

AUSVETPLAN is a comprehensive series of manuals that sets out a preferred approach to how an outbreak is managed.

AQUAVETPLAN sets out the preferred to approach to diseases that affect aquatic animals, including finfish, crustaceans and molluscs.

PLANTPLAN the agreed technical response plan used for emergency plant pest incidents.

Emergency Marine Pest Plan sets out the roles, responsibilities and actions that must be undertaken when a new pest is detected in Australia’s marine environment.


Disaster Resilience-Animal Disease


After an outbreak
Regardless of the size or location of your property, you are responsible for keeping your animals, plants/crops free from weeds, pests and disease.

If your property has been quarantined, adhere to any quarantine conditions and keep yourself informed of any updates.  Follow your own biosecurity toolkit

Follow Good Biosecurity practices including:

  • Disinfecting the necessary areas
  • Signage on entry and exits
  • Checking for strays
  • Maintaining boundary fences and restricting visitor and vehicle movements,
  • Ensuring all machinery brought onto the property is clean
  • Good husbandry
  • Ensure your purchases are from reliable sources
  • Inspecting your animals regularly,
  • Quarantining of new animals

Adhere to any quarantine conditions applied until your property has been suitably decontaminated.  Recovery programs will be tailored to the scale and nature of the outbreak. Keep yourself informed of any updates. Visit the PIRSA website or for the latest on pest and disease outbreaks in South Australia.

In case of Fruit Fly Outbreak:

  • DO NOT give away or move any fruit or fruiting vegetables, including tomatoes, capsicums, chillies and eggplants unless cooked or preserved
  • DO NOT leave fruit or fruiting vegetables lying on the ground
  • DO NOT compost any fruit or fruiting vegetables, including those purchased from a shop
  • DO place all unwanted fruit and vegetables in your green bin for normal collection
  • DO report any maggots found in fruit or fruiting vegetables immediately to the Fruit Fly Hotline on 1300 666 010
  • DO cook or preserve excess fruit and fruiting vegetables.

If your property has been quarantined, adhere to the quarantine conditions rigidly. If you experience problems in doing so, contact the biosecurity authorities. Abide by any livestock standstill order that is imposed.

If you're waiting for confirmation of an outbreak, you should also:

  • restrict all operations in the area
  • restrict access to the area
  • Restrict movement of produce and machinery
  • ensure people who visit the site follow suitable decontamination activities


For further information on this topic, or if you have any questions, please call our helpful Customer Services team on 8522 9211 or email us at