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Animal and plant disease

Fruit fly outbreaks

There are fruit fly outbreaks in metropolitan Adelaide and the Riverland.

Find out what to do if you live, work or go to school in an outbreak area.

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.

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) manages the risks posed by animal and plant pests and diseases in South Australia.

It is everyone's responsibility to keep animals and plants free from pests and diseases.

Biosecurity awareness is especially important for:

  • agriculture and farm workers
  • small scale landholders
  • travellers interstate or overseas
  • importers of goods, including items purchased online
  • pet owners
  • members of the community who may observe something unusual.

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.

Every year, the state government spends about $5 million keeping fruit fly and other plant pests out of the state.

Animal disease

Biosecurity measures can help protect South Australia from animal pests and diseases.

Preventive measures

Good biosecurity measures to protect your animals from pests and diseases include:

  • requesting an animal health statement before any livestock arrive on your property
  • keeping newly arrived animals isolated from existing livestock for two weeks, and watching closely for any signs of disease
  • registering your property for a Property Identification Code
  • ensuring cattle, sheep and goats are tagged with a National Livestock Identification device
  • regularly inspecting animals and reporting any unusual symptoms to your local vet or the the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888
  • never feeding swill to pigs, or anything containing meat or meat products to ruminants - ie cows, sheep, goats, deer
  • registering for biosecurity alerts with - visit the Primary Industries and Regions, SA (PIRSA) website for alerts and news
  • using the Farm Biosecurity Action Planner to assess the risks on your property and put preventive measures in place.

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, agist, 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).


Report serious or unusual symptoms or behaviour in livestock, birds or wildlife to one of the following:

Notifiable diseases are animal diseases that are a national threat, and by law must be reported.

The PIRSA website provides:

  • lists of the national and South Australian notifiable diseases
  • symptoms that may suggest an animal is sick
  • information required for reporting.

If you observe signs of illness in your pets including dogs, cats and birds, 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
  • staggering or head drooping
  • severe lameness
  • swollen heads
  • inability to rise
  • unexplained deaths.

Feral animals

You can help map feral animal sightings and the damage they cause  in your area through  Track - birds (Mynas and Starlings), camels, deer, feral cats, feral fish, feral goats, feral pigs, foxes, mice, rabbits, toads and wild dogs.

Find out how to control pest animals in South Australia including:

  • feral camels, deer, foxes, goats, pigs
  • mice
  • wild dogs and rabbits.

Find out about controlling deer, foxes and rabbits in Adelaide and the Mt Lofty Ranges.

Marine pests

Use the Department of Agriculture guide to identify aquatic animal diseases.

Report a suspected marine pest on the Marine Pests website.

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.

After an outbreak

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

Plant disease

Biosecurity measures can help protect South Australia from crop and plant pests and diseases.

Preventive measures

Good biosecurity measures to put in place to protect your plants from pests and diseases include:


Plant (including crops and trees) symptoms to look out for include:

  • 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.

Report fruit fly and plant pest sightings to one of the following:


These websites provide information on specific diseases and pests to help identification:

During a suspected outbreak

Once you have reported a suspected plant pest, follow any instructions provided by the biosecurity authority. This may include the following measures:

  • take note of the symptoms and the plant you found the pest or disease on, and take a photo
  • if practical:
    • take a specimen - eg leaf, flower, fruit that is affected
    • put it in a plastic bag at the site, seal the bag, and put it in a fridge or freezer for preservation
  • 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 to minimise dispersal or potential spread
  • record the site's location with sufficient detail to allow a person to return to the exact location
  • clean boots, clothes and equipment worn or used at the site to remove contaminated soil and plant material.

If you're waiting for confirmation of a pest, you should also:

  • restrict operations such as harvesting in the area
  • restrict access to the area
  • ensure that other people who have been at the site, clean and disinfect their hands, clothing and equipment
  • don't let produce or machinery leave the property.

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.

Stay informed

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

After an outbreak

If your property has been quarantined, in most cases the quarantine order will not be lifted until the property has been decontaminated. Adhere to any quarantine conditions applied during this period.

Recovery programs will be tailored to the scale and nature of the outbreak. Keep yourself informed of any updates.

Importing and moving goods between states

People, animals and items coming into the country are subject to import requirements which extend to:

  • arriving in Australia
  • mailing food, plant and animal products into Australia
  • bringing cats and dogs and other pets into the country
  • buying goods online from other countries.


Pests can enter Australia with imported goods. Examples include:

  • ants, bugs, moths and caterpillars, spiders and snails
  • live animals or rodents
  • decorations made of plant or animal materials
  • fungus
  • leaf litter, seeds or soil timber borers or borer activity (holes and wood shavings).

If you see something and you think it may be a security concern, report it to the Australian Department of Agriculture:

Sending goods to Australia

Use the Department of Agriculture question and answer tool to see if you can bring your animals or goods into Australia.

Moving goods within Australia

A guide to interstate quarantine is available from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

If you are bringing fruit and vegetables into South Australia or the Riverland, eat it, bin it or declare it.

Related information

On this site

Prepare your farm for an emergency

Other websites

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Page last updated 5 January 2021

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Department of Primary Industries and Regions
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