Photo: Flickr/Karen Green
A new strain of foot-and-mouth disease has been detected in the Gaza Strip, the U.N. Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) announced on Wednesday, AFP reports.The FAO said an outbreak of the SAT2 strain had been found on April 19 in Rafah in the southern part of Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt, according to Reuters. The FAO said vaccines were in short supply, but it was sending 20,000 doses immediately, and an extra 40,000 as soon as possible “in the event of further spread”.
The announcement confirms fears of a proliferation, following outbreaks in Egypt and Libya in March.
“If FMD [foot-and-mouth] SAT2 reaches deeper into the Middle East it could spread throughout vast areas, threatening the Gulf countries — even southern and eastern Europe, and perhaps beyond,” said Juan Lubroth, FAO’s chief veterinary officer. He added that the immediate priority should be to limit the movement of animals to prevent the highly infectious disease from spreading further.
FMD spreads through the saliva of sick animals (cows, sheep, goats) and can be passed on by traders at markets. Although it can impact meat and milk production, it does not pose a direct risk to human health. However, it can cause higher rates of mortality among pregnant and young animals.
Zakaria Kafarna of Gaza’s Agriculture Ministry says the situation is under control, according to the AP. He says livestock imports from Egypt have stopped, and officials are vaccinating thousands of animals. Israel also has a vaccination plan in place, the FAO says.
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