May 2, 2012
Livestock disease spreads to Gaza
A new case of a “novel strain” of foot-and-mouth disease has been detected in the Gaza Strip, the U.N.‘s Food and Agriculture Organization reported.
In a statement Wednesday, the Food and Agriculture Organization said that sick animals were detected in Rafah, a town bordering Egypt, on April 19. The United Nations group said it confirmed fears that the outbreaks of the SAT2 strain of the virus in Egypt and Libya in February would jump to neighboring areas. The disease is highly contagious and has devastating effects on meat and milk production.
The Food and Agriculture Organization said that following the reports of the outbreak in Egypt, Israel had quickly implemented targeted vaccination along its southern borders to create a buffer zone of protection for animal herds most at risk.
It said the Gaza Strip will be receiving an initial lot of 20,000 vaccine doses to protect its valuable cattle. An additional 40,000 doses will be made available as soon as possible for sheep and goats, according to the organization.
Juan Lubroth, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s chief veterinary officer, said that vaccines against the SAT2 virus were still in short supply, meaning that the priority is to limit animal movements to prevent spreading the virus. Heightened surveillance of animal populations to quickly detect and respond to new outbreaks also is critical.
The organization said that the foot-and-mouth disease virus is transmitted via the saliva of sick animals and can live outside a host for a long time. It spreads easily via contaminated hay, stalls, trucks, shoes and clothing—even the hands of traders inspecting animals at market.