Council Assists with Suppression of Egypt FMD Outbreak
- Published on Thursday, 29 March 2012 15:58
A new strain of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is spreading throughout Egypt. As of this writing, 100,000 cattle have been infected and more than 9,000 have died. Council staff recently visited Egypt to disseminate the U.S. Grains Council's inaugural Corn Harvest Quality Report. Everyday, almost every newspaper contained an article on its front page regarding the outbreak and Egypt's transition government's reactions and responses, as reported by MENA (Middle East News Agency).
FMD outbreaks have been observed in the region before, but what makes this strain so unique (and lethal) is that this certain type of strain (SAT2) has never been seen in the area, and therefore cattle are not immune, and farmers are not equipped with the vaccine to mitigate the spread. However, according the Council's Director in Egypt Dr. Hussain Soliman, the Vet Authority allowed the importation of the polyvalent vaccine that includes SAT 1 & 2 and began a massive vaccination program.
Council staff assisted Ministry of Agriculture officials and USAID to supply Egypt with the proper vaccines and U.S. expertise and guidance. All of this translates to increased optimism that the spread of the disease is being limited to areas around the lower Nile Delta. This is terrific news after the UN's FAO urged "immediate action" to prevent the spread to the rest of North Africa and the Middle East.
Government officials are urging farmers to limit the movement of cattle to a minimum, as the virus can travel upwards of 75 miles simply by the wind, curtailing any new purchases and burning or burying any dead carcasses. Additionally, MENA newspaper articles plead Egyptians to only buy meat and milk from accredited sources with hygienic conditions. Still, Egyptian farmers feel the government isn't doing enough, as they are throwing dead carcasses in front of governors' offices in hopes of attracting attention.
The outbreak is having an effect on other protein sources as consumers switch demand from beef to poultry and even fish. Prices for alternate proteins have increased significantly in recent weeks. Trade estimates ranged from a decrease in feed grain demand from 0-25 percent. Sources indicate it is expected to have the largest impact on the Egyptian calf crop, which is expected to fall by 18 percent versus last year.