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WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand said late on Wednesday it had increased measures to prevent foot and mouth disease (FMD) from getting into the country after the disease was recently found in the Indonesian tourist resort of Bali.

“With FMD recently found in the tourist hotspot of Bali, we’ve taken concrete steps to boost our work at the border in recent weeks including a public awareness campaign,” said Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

“I call on everyone to be vigilant in playing their part to protect New Zealand’s economic security,” he said.

Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious virus that affects cloven hooved animals. An outbreak of the virus in New Zealand would severely impact key exports of dairy, red meat and pork products for months or even years, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Biosecurity New Zealand this week introduced foot mats with disinfecting chemicals for arrivals from Indonesia to ensure footwear is clear of the virus. A campaign has been launched to educate travellers going to Bali of the issues. There is an on-the-ground audit happening of the supply chain for animal feed palm kernel. And New Zealand is providing equipment to Indonesia to help contain the virus there.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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