Saturday 7 July 2012


الحُمّى القلاعية 

A new strain of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Egypt could aggravate discontent among the rural poor and prolong the country's political turmoil.
As Egypt struggles to make a vaccine, agriculture experts fear a vicious circle has begun: political disarray helps spread animal disease, which deepens poverty and discontent -- and breeds more political disarray. Meanwhile neighbouring countries fear Egypt's virus could soon reach them.
FMD kills young cattle, buffalo, and other ruminants, weakens older
ones and slashes farms' productivity. At a meeting in Bangkok,
Thailand, last week, the member countries of the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a plan to get FMD under
control worldwide by 2027 [see 20120628.1184291]. Yet the FAO cannot
get money to have vaccine made out of existing stocks of ingredients
for the Egyptian outbreak.
Egypt already harbours 2 strains of the FMD virus [serotypes O and A],
but its livestock have some resistance to them, through either
exposure or vaccination. They have none to the new strain, SAT2.
In February [2012], migrant herders also brought SAT2 to Libya,
although there are slight genetic differences between the viruses in
Libya and Egypt. Political upheaval in both countries means "the
ability to do the right surveillance and control has been quite
diminished," says Juan Lubroth, head of animal health at the FAO in
Rome. He fears what could also happen if the virus turns up in Syria
or Iraq.
That puts the whole region at risk: FMD is the most contagious animal
virus known. European Union officials are said to be preparing
contingency plans. Israel has vaccinated livestock along its southern
border and given vaccine to Palestinian authorities, who have
contained the virus after infected animals came to Gaza through
smuggling tunnels from Egypt.

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