Rift Valley Fever Devastates Saudi Livestock
Rift Valley Fever has killed 10,768 Saudi livestock animals and 16,212 others are infected, the Saudi agriculture ministry said Tuesday.
Agriculture and Water Minister Abdullah Al-Muamar told a news conference in the Jizan region, where the disease was first detected, that the ministry has sprayed more than 153,000 animals with insecticides and that the process was still on going. He said the Jizan area is home to 1.5 million animals and the spraying process will take time.
Framers who lost livestock to the Rift Valley Fever will be compensated after the disease is under control, Al-Muamar said. He said the ministry has enlisted the help of international food and agriculture experts to create a vaccine that would cure the infected animals and make others immune from the disease.
A group of 100 experts in Saudi Arabia are working to contain the disease; another 100 experts will join them, Al-Muamar said. Twelve Saudi planes continue to spray infected areas with insecticides, he added. The ministry is offering Jizan residents' monthly salaries of between SAR1500-2500 ($US400-660) to help in the spraying process, which includes driving spray trucks and other equipment, Al-Muamar said.
The ministry is also training additional veterinarian doctors, Al-Muamar said.
The Rift Valley Fever hit the Jizan areas two weeks ago and has killed 25 people so far, Saudi health officials said.
The disease, which is transmitted from animals to humans by mosquitoes or by coming in contact with an infected animal, has affected meat consumption throughout the kingdom. Restaurants and butcheries have been hit hard due to a decline in red meat consumption. Saudi newspapers reported that sales of red meat at butcheries have decline by 30 percent.
The consumption of chicken has slightly declined due to the fear that the disease might spread to chickens. However, demand is high on imported French frozen chicken, and fish consumption has doubled since the outbreak of the disease, media reports said. As a precautionary measure, Saudi Arabia has banned meat imports from several African countries, most of which are in the Red Sea area.
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