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CIS countries face FMD threat

By Vladislav Vorotnikov , 11-May-2012

CIS countries face FMD threat

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is actively spreading on countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), especially Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakhstan registered nine outbreaks of FMD since the beginning of 2012, which is more than in the whole of 2011. According to rough estimates, Kazakhstan’s veterinary services culled more than 8,000 head of cattle, and 12 regions of the country are considered at risk.

The FMD situation is even worse in Kyrgyzstan, where  the epidemic is running riot in the Issyk-Kul region - the number of infected animals cannot be calculated. State officials believe it will be almost impossible to improve the situation in the near future, because no FMD vaccines are available in the country.

“Based on information currently available to us, about 30-40% of cattle in some regions of the country are suffering from FMD. Despite this, local residents often bring animals to the markets and sell them on the sly. Thus, the infected cattle infect people. Though we have repeatedly given harsh warnings to local farmers, it seems like somehow they do not want to change the situation,” said Tologon Keldibay, a representative of the Department for Consumer Protection of the Osh region of Kyrgyzstan.

Russia has had two FMD outbreaks this year, and representatives of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) believe that if the country does not correct the situation in neighbouring states, epidemics could become overwhelming in Russia, and spread to the rest of Europe.

Russia registered about 30 outbreaks of FMD in 2011, a figure that could rise this year despite the low number of outbreaks recorded so far, according to veterinary experts.

The main threat to Russia remains the possibility of importing the virus from Kazakhstan. An immune buffer zone has been created on the border between the two countries, where authorities plan to vaccinate 500,000 animals each year. The Russian Ministry of Agriculture plans to allocate RUB2.6bn (US$860m) for the purchase of vaccines against FMD and disinfectants against African swine fever in 2012, but this figure does not include the delivery of vaccines sent to foreign countries.

According to preliminary estimates, this year Russia may supply Kyrgyzstan with 400,000 vaccines against FMD. It will also deliver 14 million vaccines to Mongolia within bilateral agreements on the provision of grant aid totalling RUB375m (US$12.5m). In total, Russia will provide FMD vaccines for 20 million head of livestock in Mongolia, and approximately 5 million cattle in the CIS countries. However, Russian experts acknowledge that since about 2008 the FMD situation in the CIS region has progressively worsened, with almost every country in the region troubled by the disease today, except Ukraine.

“One of the major problems in terms of containing the spread of FMD is the system currently used to combat the disease in the Republic of Kazakhstan, where veterinary services only carry out mandatory vaccination after destroying the source of the infection on a farm, and there is no constant preventative vaccination,” said Igor Kozlov, the governor of the Saratov region, which borders with Kazakhstan.

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