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Argentine government vows vigilance over FMD

By Stephanie Garlow, reporting from Buenos Aires , 13-Jan-2012

The Argentine government has promised to be steadfast in protecting its valuable beef industry in the face of a renewed foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in neighbouring Paraguay.

SENACSA, Paraguay’s animal health agency, (Servicio Nacional de Calidad y Salud Animal) has confirmed the highly contagious disease was detected last week on a ranch in the central department (region) of San Pedro: this follows 15 cattle under 24-months-old showing signs of lameness and salivation. So far, Paraguay has culled 168 animals in the affected area, restricting animal movements and establishing local checkpoints to disinfect vehicles.

As a result, SENASA, Argentina’s animal agency, (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria) has said it will maintain and maybe increase tough controls put in place after Paraguay suffered an FMD outbreak in September. A spokesman for SENASA said: “In the border areas of our country, extraordinary control and prevention measures have been adopted to avoid entry by any means of exotic vesicular diseases.

SENASA has said it will block the import of Paraguayan goods that could transmit the virus (notably most meat products and livestock), either directly or through third countries. Its officials are also disinfecting and monitoring vehicles and people crossing the border.

After the latest alert, SENASA put several Paraguay border posts on alert, including ones in Salta, Formosa, Chaco, Corrientes, Misiones and Entre Rios. It is also reviewing the list of banned Paraguay products and may add additional lines later this week. The stakes are high for Argentina’s beef industry which has been projected to produce 2.6 million tonnes in 2012 (by US Department of Agriculture analysts).

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) currently recognises Argentina as being free of FMD, with the southern part of the country not requiring vaccination; the north requires vaccination and other preventive measures. In the September outbreak, Paraguay culled at least 819 animals and vaccinated about 48,000, according to the OIE.

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