FAO and OIE Cooperate to Control Foot-And-Mouth Disease

The United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health, or OIE, announced a joint plan to control foot-and-mouth disease across the world.

The ultimate goal is a disease-free status globally, which will require building up veterinary services responsible for controlling animal illness, the Paris-based OIE wrote in an e-mailed statement today.

Foot-and-mouth disease, which doesn’t directly affect human health, can cause high mortality in young animals, reduce milk yields and lower fertility, according to the OIE. The disease costs an estimated $5 billion annually due to lost production and vaccination efforts, the group said.

“Recent FMD outbreaks around the globe demonstrate that animal diseases have no boundaries, can have a devastating impact and require a global response,” Hiroyuki Konuma, the FAO’s regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, was cited as saying in the statement.

World meat output is expected to climb 76 percent by 2050 from 2007, and containing foot-and-mouth disease will help boost livestock production and lift demand for feed grains, the FAO representative said in an interview in Bangkok.

A seven-week outbreak in Japan in 2009 cost about $300 million, said Juan Lubroth, the FAO’s chief veterinary officer. The direct and indirect costs of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the U.K. in 2001 are estimated at as much as $30 billion, the OIE wrote.

For poor farmers, foot-and-mouth disease can cause hunger and “economic ruin” as it cuts their supply of income and food from meat and milk, according to the OIE.

The FAO developed a step-by-step guide for countries to manage the risk of foot-and-mouth disease, starting from surveillance of what types of virus strains circulate to disease-free status, according to the statement. The OIE developed a performance evaluation to bring national veterinary services in line with its international quality standards.

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