If you suspect an exotic pest or disease outbreak in plants or animals, you need to act immediately.

See how to report your find and how to reduce any impact to your property and those around you.

Report pests and diseases

If you suspect a pest or disease outbreak, report it. Even if you’re not sure.

How to report a concern

Notifiable pest and diseases

Exotic pests and diseases (new to Australia) must be reported to your state or territory biosecurity authority.

In some cases, endemic (established) pests and diseases are also 'notifiable' which means, by law, they must be reported. These may be different in each state or territory.

Find out what is a notifiable pest or disease in your area. Check with the authority in your state or territory.

What to tell authorities when reporting an outbreak

See the following details you should gather to report an animal or plant pest or disease.

You must tell your veterinarian or state or territory agriculture department:

  • your name and (if not you) the name of the owner and/or farm manager
  • the full address and phone number of the property
  • types of animals on the property, for example sheep and cattle (approximate numbers, including feral animals)
  • animals affected (e.g. only cattle)
  • briefly describe clinical signs of disease or lesions, and the date first seen
  • whether you suspect a particular pest or disease
  • the approximate number of sick or dead animals
  • if animals have recently left or been brought onto the property
  • if the property has a biosecurity plan.

You must tell your agronomist or state or territory agriculture department:

  • your name and (if not you) the name of the owner and/or farm manager
  • the full address and phone number of the property
  • types of production system, broad acre, orchard, pasture
  • the plant type (e.g. wheat, barley, citrus)
  • where the affected plants were sourced
  • the quantity of planting in number or hectares
  • the current stage of harvest cycle (e.g. current or recently sown)
  • if any plants or plant material has left the property
  • disease signs that are showing, or a description of the pest
  • are there pickers or itinerant workers on the property
  • if there is a packing shed on the property
  • any containment measures that people have taken so far
  • whether any machinery has moved on or off the property
  • whether any machinery has been shared with other growers/farmers
  • whether the property is in an exclusion zone (e.g. fruit fly or rice)
  • details of access to the property
  • the recent use of chemicals or calendar sprays
  • if irrigation is used on the property, and if so what type
  • if the property have a biosecurity plan.

What to do at the site of an outbreak

The biosecurity measures below may need to put in place following your report to biosecurity authorities. You must also follow any other instructions they give you.

  • Do not move animals (including birds) onto or off the property.
  • Isolate (quarantine) suspect animals in well-fenced paddocks, yards, buildings, pens or cages.
  • Some diseases are air-borne. Keep your stock away from the boundary of the property.
  • Avoid moving people, vehicles, equipment, manure and soiled litter, and product (e.g. milk and wool) on and off the property – unless otherwise directed.
  • If in contact with suspect animals, clean and disinfect afterwards. This applies to any gear or equipment the animal has had contact with.
  • Clean boots, clothes and equipment worn or used at the site. You must remove contaminated soil, manure and plant material.
  • Take note of the symptoms and the plant where you found the pest or disease. Take a clear photo if possible.
  • If you can, take a specimen such as an affected leaf, flower, fruit. Place it in a plastic bag at the site and seal it. Put it in a freezer to preserve.
  • Tag or mark the site with a peg or something non-degradable that won’t blow away.
  • Avoid further contact or disturbance of the site. This will minimise dispersal or potential spread.
  • Use a GPS to record the site’s location or mark the site on a map. Or sketch a map of the detection site.
  • Provide detail of the detection site to allow a person to return to the exact location.
  • Clean boots, clothes and equipment that has been worn or used at the site. You must remove contaminated soil and plant material.

If you’re waiting for confirmation of a pest or disease, then you must also:

  • restrict operations in the area, such as harvesting
  • withdraw people, vehicles and equipment from the area
  • restrict access to the area
  • ensure that people at the site clean and disinfect their hands, clothing and equipment
  • do not let produce or machinery leave the property.

After you report your find, take these steps:

  • Find out if the organism is native to Australian waters and is not an invasive species that looks similar. Check the marine pests interactive map or use the pest identification cards
  • Do not collect samples. If possible, take a few close-up photos of the suspected pest from different angles. Include an object in the phots for size reference (e.g. coin, bank note or ruler).
  • Note the exact location using a GPS if you have one. Write down as many details as possible. Include shore markers, depth of water, substrate or infrastructure the organism was on. Note the date and number of animals you saw. Note any other characteristics you think might be useful.

See more on keeping marine pests out of Australian waters.

What to do if a national livestock standstill is declared

A national livestock standstill will stop the movement of susceptible livestock. The standstill will be 3 days (72 hours), which may be extended.

A standstill restricts the spread of the disease. It also allows time for surveillance and tracing activities.

A national standstill during an equine influenza outbreak in Australia in 2007 showed the benefits of this approach. The standstill applied to horses and donkeys, and helped to quickly eradicate the disease.

Do not move your animals

You must not move susceptible animals anywhere in Australia. This applies even if they don’t look sick, and the disease hasn’t been detected in your area.

You can be prosecuted for moving livestock during a national standstill.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)

If there’s an FMD outbreak, you cannot move cloven-hoofed animals. This includes cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, alpacas, llamas, deer and buffalo.

If you don’t comply, you may contribute to the disease spread. It will become more difficult to contain and eradicate.

If FMD spreads it will affect our agriculture industry, the economy and environment. This happened with the FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001. The impact of the disease went well beyond the farm gate.

How you’ll be notified

A national livestock standstill is a national emergency. It will be announced through a range of media. Government agencies, livestock industries and agricultural organisations will contact their members and stakeholders.

A standstill may be extended beyond the initial 72 hours if needed. When a national standstill ends, each state or territory may choose to maintain their own movement restrictions.

Movement restrictions may also apply to products. In the case on an FMD outbreak, the movement of products such as wool and dairy may also be restricted.

As soon as a national standstill is declared, we’ll provide up-to-date details on this site (outbreak.gov.au).