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Egyptian FMD outbreak requires “urgent action”, says FAO

By Melodie Michel , 23-Mar-2012

Egyptian FMD outbreak requires “urgent action”, says FAO

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Egypt, which has killed an estimated 4,658 animals, with a further 40,222 suspected cases, is threatening food security in North Africa and the Middle East, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned.

The organisation said vaccines were urgently needed to avoid “serious implications”, as 6.3 million buffalo and cattle and 7.5 million sheep and goats are at risk in Egypt, adding that livestock have no immune protection against this new strain of the virus. “We are working closely to support the government to bring the outbreak under control. The area around the Lower Nile Delta appears to be severely affected, while other areas in Upper Egypt and the west appear less so,” said Juan Lubroth, FAO’s chief veterinary officer.

An FMD control strategy has been set up by the FAO and the Egyptian authorities, including biosecurity measures and the use of vaccination when available. Moreover, livestock attendants are urged to limit animal movements, and avoid contact with animals from other farms or purchasing animals in the immediate term. They have also been advised to properly dispose of carcases, preferably by incineration, or by burial.

The FAO added that the country had some reserves of FMD vaccines, but that these do not protect against the SAT2 strain currently circulating in Egypt.

“Egypt could need regional support in mobilising effective [vaccines]. Even if they become available quickly, vaccines sometimes take up to two weeks to confer immunity, so the FAO is urging coordination at all levels of government to implement biosecurity measures to limit the spread of the disease,” the organisation said. 

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