Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Global approach to tackle FMD

The devastating effects of Foot and Mouth outbreaks in both 2001 and 2007 live long in the memory.

While we have enjoyed a five-year period of being FMD-free, we must guard against complacency. This point was notably stressed at last year’s EBLEX annual conference where significant disease outbreak was cited one of the biggest threats to the continued access to export markets for the beef and sheep sector.

With this very much in mind, it’s been welcoming to see the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recently announcing they are joining forces to combat FMD on a global scale to bring the devastating livestock disease under control.

At the FAO/OIE global conference in Bangkok, where the announcement was made, the aim of the strategy was outlined – to decrease the impact of FMD worldwide by reducing the number of disease outbreaks in infected countries until they ultimately attain FMD-free status, as well as by maintaining the official FMD-free status of countries that are already ‘clean’.

The OIE’s Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway (PVS) will evaluate national veterinary services with the aim of bringing them into compliance with OIE quality standards. After all, not only do reliable veterinary services ensure the quality and safety of livestock production, but also protect the safety of food sources, trade and animal health.

FAO’s Progressive Control Pathway for Foot-and-Mouth Disease, the PCP-FMD, will guide countries through a series of incremental steps to better manage FMD risks, including active surveillance to establish what types of FMD virus strains are circulating in the country and neighbouring areas.

Our industry is all too aware of the potential health and economic implications of FMD.
It can cause high mortality in newborn and young animals, weight loss, reduced milk yields and lower fertility. According to the FAO/OIE the global annual cost of FMD, in terms of production losses and the need for prevention by vaccination, has been estimated to be approximately $5 billion.

The latest developments are certainly a step in the right direction to mitigate that potential impact. Further details of the global strategy on FMD can be found by clicking here.