ANIMAL health authorities warned five years ago that livestock diseases were on the increase because of rising demand for red meat across Asia.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said in February 2017 the increasing demand for more protein-rich foods were threatening the health of millions of people and livestock as unregulated producers race to meet the demand, often ignoring the threat of disease and contamination.
While not specifically naming foot and mouth disease, then FAO chief veterinary officer Dr Juan Lubroth said risks had increased following the explosion of the human and animal population across the region.
"Much of the growth in livestock for human consumption has been unregulated so the systems in place to ensure food safety and consumer confidence, the protection of human and animal health, and prevention of existing transboundary diseases and newly emerging ones, have not been well addressed," Dr Lubroth said.
"This weakness in the system has its consequences that manifest themselves in the spread of new and existing diseases."
According to FAO figures, the consumption of meat products during the last 50 years has gone from 8.7kg/person in the mid-1960s to 50kg/person in 2015 - an increase of more than 500 percent.
Even without including the increased consumption in China, the region still consumed three-times more meat during the same period, he said.
Japan had gone from nearly 33kg/person in the mid-1980s to more than 41kg in the late 1990s, while its net imports quadrupled and self-sufficiency fell by around one-third.
"The demand for more meat products is driving an industry to have those products ready for purchase in the markets but there are risks associated with this," Dr Lubroth said.
Dr Lubroth said more than 70 per cent of all transmittable human diseases were contracted from animals.
"Because of the rampant appearance of both new and old diseases, and the easy way that they can move across borders through live animals or commodities and across value chains, it is important that everyone - from governments to farmers to retailers - takes action to improve levels of disease prevention and response.
Dr Lubroth said the cost of vaccines often limited their use in rural areas.
"And so a typical approach to a sick animal is sell it before it dies," he said.
"What's really needed is for health and agriculture authorities to work more closely together on both human and animal health in a holistic way to address the gaps that allow these diseases to spread.
"That will take determination and resources, but it's in everyone's best interests."
According to the latest PRISMA report, foot and mouth disease has now officially spread to 22 of Indonesia's 37 provinces.
A total of 498,893 animals had been vaccinated as of July 14, with 3 million vaccine doses being secured by the Indonesian Government.
Indonesia has 16 million cattle and a further 49 million susceptible goats, sheep and pigs on at least 6000 of its more than 17,500 islands.
National Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline: 1800 675 888.
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