Foot and mouth disease is no pandemic, says official

Tamim Elyan
4 Min Read

CAIRO: Officials at the General Authority for Veterinary Services quelled concerns surrounding the spread of foot and mouth disease (FMD) after several deaths among livestock animals in a farm in Gharbeya were reported.

A shipment of 1,270 camels from Sudan was also recently quarantined, however officials say that these are merely individual cases and that no new cases were reported.

“FMD has been around since 1950 and the number of recent cases is too few to deem the disease a pandemic; especially when compared to the outbreak of 2006, Ibrahim El-Bendary, general director of the preventive medicine department at the General Authority for Veterinary Services, told Daily News Egypt.

On the Egypt-Sudan border, 1,270 camels were quarantined at Shalateen after they tested positive for FMD. One day later, veterinary authorities at Gharbeya announced the death of tens of animals in a farm, sparking fears that the disease might have entered Egypt through Sudan.

According to genotyping data provided by the World Reference Laboratory for FMD at the Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright, England, two FMD virus strains have already been recognized in Egypt during 2009.

However, El-Bendary said that the strains of the infected cases aren’t new and that veterinary authorities have the necessary vaccine.

“We launch a nationwide vaccination campaign twice per year; however, some citizens refuse to cooperate because of fears that their animals may die or it may affect milking processes, he said.

These animals are left without the immunity needed and they pose a threat to the rest of the animals in the area, he added.

According to El-Bendary, a committee was sent to Shalateen to confirm that the quarantined camels are infected with FMD.

We double-checked the results because camels are unlikely to catch FMD; it only infects cloven-hoofed animals, El-Bendary said.

FMD is considered a fatal and highly contagious viral disease that can be transferred aerially and through close interaction, and even after the animal is cured it carries the virus for a period of time, he explained.

There are seven FMD serotypes: O, A, C, SAT-1, SAT-2, SAT-3, and Asia-1; Egypt had only witnessed serotype A and O.

Another disease Egyptians are currently wary of is the plague after rumors surfaced of an Egyptian worker coming from Libya was infected.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Health said that Egypt is free of the plague until now and that it would announce any reported case.

Meanwhile, a new case of H1N1 virus was reported in Egypt, brining the total of cases to 41, Ministry of Health spokesperson Abdel Rahman Shahin said.

The patient is a British citizen who arrived to Sharm El-Sheikh on June 22 and was moved to Sharm El-Sheikh hospital after he started demonstrating symptoms the day he arrived.

On the other hand, Shahin announced that a new case recovered to raise the number of recoveries to 30 while another 11 are still undergoing treatment.

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