Despite government assurances that they were in control of Egypt’s FMD, an outbreak has swept through the country, killing more than 10000 animals to date. The UN Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) warns that 6.3 million buffalo and cattle and 7.5 million sheep and goats are at risk of contamination, and the General Authority for Veterinary Services claims that more than 60 000 animals have already contracted a new strain of the virus (SAT2) against which local livestock have no immunity.
Although human beings aren’t typically at risk of contracting FMD, the outbreak has devastated the country’s livestock population and sent prices soaring.
Many local Egyptians unable to trust government have turned to other sources of protein and businesses meat are suffering serious losses.
Overwhelmed, Egypt appealed to the FAO to help stay the outbreak.
“We are working closely to support the government to bring the outbreak under control,” said Juan Lubroth, FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer adding that “The area around the Lower Nile Delta appears to be severely affected, while other areas in Upper Egypt and the west appear less so.”
Egypt’s small stock of vaccines aren’t effective against the new strain, so Egypt needs regional help to import more vaccines.
“Even if they become available quickly, vaccines sometimes take up to 2 weeks to confer immunity,” according to a recent FAO press release.
“FAO is urging coordination at all levels of government to implement biosecurity measures to limit the spread of the disease.”
In the meantime, livestock owners are urged to take the following measures to limit the spread.
- Limit animal movement and contact with animals from other farms
- Avoid purchasing new animals in the short term
- Properly dispose of infected carcasses by incineration or burying.
Hayani Saad, chairman of a meat producers association, told Egypt Independent that he expects vaccines and warmer temperatures to deter the disease by early April .