The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO called for veterinary and border control authorities in Asia to be on alert for animals showing signs of Foot and Mouth Disease, FMD. The request follows on South Korea’s culling millions of livestock and vaccinating millions more to stop the spread of FMD, while North Korea also is responding to an outbreak of the disease.
The current FMD dynamics in eastern Asia as well as the magnitude of the outbreak in South and North Korea are unlike anything that we've seen for at least a half century, said Dr. Juan Lubroth, FAO chief veterinary officer. FAO is advocating proactive vaccination campaigns designed to stop the spread of the disease.
In late February, the FAO and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) sent a team to North Korea to help veterinary authorities respond to an FMD outbreak there among pigs and cattle. In addition, the team sought to assist North Korean authorities with long-term prevention planning.
Also in eastern Asia, according to the FAO, new strains of FMD virus have spread throughout China and eastern regions of Russia and Mongolia. The disease recently affected large numbers of Mongolian gazelles, and the FAO sent an emergency response team to Mongolia to help authorities cope with the disease.
The latest reports from Taiwan indicated that over 1,000 hogs have been culled after some pigs on the auction block at a local meat market were spotted with blisters in their mouths, a clear symptom of FMD disease, the country’s Council of Agriculture (COA) said in a statement.
The government has also decreed a ban on the movement of all cloven-hoofed animals throughout the county. Initial tests on samples collected from the ailing pigs showed that they were infected with an O-type FMD virus, said Huang Kuo-ching, deputy director of COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.
Unlike farms in Taiwan proper, the pigs in Penghu County where the FMD has been located, have not received vaccinations against FMD since 2006, Huang said.
Since a serious FMD outbreak hit Taiwan in 1997, locally grown pork has been barred from export. Sporadic FMD outbreaks were reported in some parts of Taiwan last year.
In the wake of the latest FMD outbreak in Penghu, Huang said, his bureau will launch checks on hog, cattle and goat ranches throughout Taiwan to prevent the spread of the disease.