Malaysia blocks live cattle imports from Australia after skin disease scare

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Malaysia has temporarily suspended live cattle and buffalo imports from Australia, the Australian government said, days after Indonesia paused some imports after lumpy skin disease (LSD) was detected in a small number of cattle after arrival.

Australia was urgently engaging with its Malaysian counterparts to lift the curbs while confirming the country remained free from the disease, Australia’s chief veterinary officer, Mark Schipp, said on Wednesday.

“We understand this decision was based on Indonesia’s advice that they will not accept cattle from four specific export establishments following detection of LSD in exported Australian cattle after they had arrived and spent time in Indonesia,” Schipp said in a statement.

Indonesia, the largest market for Australian live cattle exports, last week placed some restrictions even as officials sought to allay fears by conducting rapid diagnostic testing.

Schipp said his department was working to finalise the investigation into the health status of the impacted cattle. Australia is free of LSD and cattle exports to Indonesia continue from other facilities.

LSD, which causes blisters and reduces milk production, is a highly infectious viral disease affecting cattle and buffalo that is transmitted by insect bites. It poses no risk to humans.

Australia did not specify the number of shipments that will be impacted by Malaysia’s decision.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Matthew Lewis)