UN unveils offensive to curb animal virus

Major drive launched against FMD aims to bring disease under progressive global control

23 July 2009 – A major United Nations-backed drive to bring food and mouth disease (FMD) – a highly contagious viral disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals which can easily hop borders between nations – under global control has been launched to ensure the livelihoods of herders.

The new campaign, a joint effort between the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), was unveiled last month in Asunciòn, Paraguay.

FMD is characterized by the formation of blisters in the mouth, nose and other areas of animals. While not very lethal in adults, it nonetheless has enormous economic consequences, with outbreaks impacting the livelihoods of herders and rural households in developing countries.

Wealthier nations are also not immune to outbreaks of the disease. In 2001, 6 million animals worth some $12 million had to be destroyed in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and the Netherlands in an outbreak which lasted eight months.

“The FMD situation worldwide merits the attention of the international community and donors and it needs to be controlled at source,” said Joseph Domenech, FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer.

The new global campaign seeks to mobilize action at the country and regional level, since different types of FMD viruses circulate in different parts of the world.

The progress of participating countries – split into seven FMD ‘pools,’ or regions – will be measured on a scale of 0-5, with 100 countries currently at levels 0-3 while 67 others are at levels 4 or 5 and are recognized as virus-free.


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