New foot-and-mouth sweeping south

THAILAND: A recently discovered strain of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is sweeping through Southeast Asia, a top Australian expert has warned. Dr Laurence Gleeson, regional coordinator of the South East Asia FMD control program, said, “This pan-Asian strain seems to be very well adapted to pigs and cattle, and has the capability to spread. It’s now in every country in Southeast Asia that has [conventional] FMD.” Research conducted through the FMD program, which is run by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) – a world organization for animal health – indicates that the new strain originated in the Indian Subcontinent in the late 1990s, and has since spread east. The program’s objective is to control and eradicate all forms of FMD in Southeast Asia by the year 2010. In response to the warning, Dr Wiraparp Termkietpaisan, a veterinarian at the Phuket Provincial Livestock Office (PPLO), said today, “It’s almost impossible for foot-and-mouth disease to get into Phuket. “We have a quarantine station open 24 hours a day at the checkpoint at Tah Chat Chai. Any livestock or meat that is to be transported in or out of the province must be left at the quarantine station [until] our vets can examine it.” The quarantine station was opened after an outbreak of FMD last March at Baan Mai Riab, in Kathu, infected 67 animals, killing seven of them. PPLO officers contained the outbreak by banning the movement of any livestock in the area and then vaccinating all livestock within 10 square kilometers. Dr Wiraparp explained that it was unlikely the new strain of FMD would reach Southern Thailand because livestock is required to pass examinations at three quarantine checkpoints, at Petchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon, before it can be transported further south. “People in Southern Thailand shouldn’t worry about this. Even if it does manage to come into the country, or into Phuket, we have the medicine and vaccine to cure the disease,” he added. FMD is not harmful to people provided the meat is properly cooked. But it is highly destructive in herds of farm animals. According to the OIE, FMD currently reduces animal production in Southeast Asia by 25%.

Phuket News
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