Major foot-and-mouth outbreak in Egypt

A major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is affecting Egypt, with some 40,000 cases suspected and resulting in the deaths of over 4,600 animals, mostly calves.

Although foot-and-mouth disease has been prevalent in Egypt for some years, this virus is a new strain known as SAT2, and livestock have no immunity against it. Egypt is in possession of a limited amount of foot-and-mouth vaccines, but these do not protect against SAT2.

The United Nation's Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with Egyptian veterinary authorities, has helped to introduce initial measures to contain the disease but said that vaccines are urgently needed to prevent it from spreading. FAO has also called for all levels of Egypt's government to respond to the crisis by implementing coordinated biosecurity measures.

Egypt’s 6.3 million buffalo and cattle and 7.5 million sheep and goats are at risk, according to FAO, which considers the area around the Lower Nile Delta to be severely affected.

Those working with livestock are urged to limit the movement of animals and avoid contact with animals from other farms; avoid purchasing animals in the immediate term; and dispose of carcasses by incineration preferably or, failing that, burying them.

Foot-and-mouth disease affects all cloven-hoofed animals and can be lethal, particularly to younger animals. Produce from infected animals is unsafe for human consumption.