The OPEC Fund for International Development today approved a grant of $300,000 to support the first phase of an initiative to control the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the Arab region. Spearheaded by the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), the project will establish control efforts to prevent future outbreaks, with the long-term goal of eradicating the disease in the area entirely.
FMD is a highly infectious virus that strikes cloven-hoofed livestock, and is characterized by ulcerating lesions in the mouth, feet and udders of affected animals. Under certain climatic conditions, airborne transmission of the virus poses a very real risk, as it can be carried over considerable distances.
The disease has devastating effects on young animals, with mortality rates reaching as high as 50 percent, and while only a small percentage of adult animals perish, those that contract the virus fail to put on weight and produce far less milk, a situation that constrains food security and causes great financial losses.
Livestock is one of the most vital assets in the Arab region, which possesses some 275 million head of cattle, camels, sheep and goats valued at around $18 billion. In the late 1990’s, FMD swept the area, infecting at least 176 million livestock and killing thousands of newborn animals.
In its preliminary assessment of the 14 at-risk countries, namely, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Algeria, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), GSP Libyan A.J., Palestine, Morocco and the Sudan, AOAD has detected the presence of several different FMD serotypes. The eradication campaign will therefore be implemented in five separate, three year-long stages.
Phase I, which began in January 2003, comprises the following activities: establishment of a reference laboratory for FMD diagnosis and the production of suitable vaccines; provision of supplies and equipment for national laboratories for control and surveillance; implementation of training programs on regional and national levels for veterinarians and technicians from affected counties; and, organization of awareness and extension activities to farmers and technical staff, including the dissemination of appropriate information materials. — (menareport.com)
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