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Europe Virtually Free Of Foot-And-Mouth Disease

Europe Virtually Free Of Foot-And-Mouth Disease – Un Agriculture Agency

Europe is almost free of the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease after a long history of devastating epidemics, but the continent’s livestock industry should remain vigilant against possible future outbreaks, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease, the FAO said that 31 of the Commission’s 33 Member States are free of foot-and-mouth disease – the virus remains endemic only in Turkey and Israel.

The last major outbreak in Europe occurred in 2001, when 4 million animals in the United Kingdom had to be slaughtered to control the disease’s spread. Animals in Ireland, France and the Netherlands were also affected. That outbreak is estimated to have cost $13 billion in losses to agriculture and tourism.

Experts warn that there is still a high risk of the virus being re-introduced to Europe from regions where it remains prevalent – such as East and Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

They called on European nations to maintain their support to these areas so that the virus does not return to the continent.

Foot-and-mouth disease, which can strike cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, buffaloes and deer, can be transmitted through the movement of animals, animal products or meat. The disease leads to painful ulcerous areas in the mouths and feet of animals.

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