Farmers say more needs to be done to educate city dwellers who are confusing foot-and-mouth disease with a mild and unrelated human illness, leading to the spread of dangerous misinformation. FMD is a highly infectious livestock disease that affects all cloven-hoofed animals — not humans — and is spreading rapidly across Indonesia. Hand, foot and mouth disease, by contrast, is a common viral infection of children which usually causes only a mild illness. While FMD has not been detected in Australia for 150 years, HFMD is widespread and commonly passed on in daycare centres. WAFarmers president John Hassell said it was worrying to see urbanites confusing the two and making bogus claims on social media suggesting FMD was already in Australia. “Some people are saying, ‘look, we’ve already got hand, foot and mouth disease’ (in Australia),” he said. “We don’t want to be confusing HFMD with FMD.” Asked whether the general public should be better educated about FMD, Mr Hassel responded: “Absolutely”. Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA president Tony Seabrook agreed. “We need to clearly delineate here: This is a disease of animals, not of people,” Mr Seabrook said. “Every single person on that plane coming in from Indonesia should be able to tell you straightaway what FMD is and what’s happening. . . but they don’t know.” Countryman can vouch for Mr Hassell’s and Mr Seabrook’s concerns, having recently been accused of “fearmongering” by certain social media users who shall remain unnamed. Some Facebook users, clearly confusing FMD with HFMD, suggested the former had been in Australian childcare centres “for years”, while others claimed their relatives had recently come down with the disease. An FMD outbreak in Australia would shut down the nation’s animal export markets overnight and cost the economy up to $80 billion. Indonesia has been grappling with a major outbreak since early May, putting Australia’s agricultural industries on high alert. Things went from bad to worse last week when Indonesian authorities confirmed FMD had spread to Bali, increasing the risk of it being brought back to Australia by travellers. Minor outbreaks of possible FMD were believed to have occurred in Australia in 1801, 1804, 1871 and 1872, according to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Indonesia had until recently been FMD-free since 1986.