By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: Minister of Agriculture Saad Nassar said Monday that all precautionary and preventive measures are being taken to control the current outbreak of food and mouth disease (FMD) in Egypt.
An outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) among cattle in Egypt has been a concern for the past few weeks, with the Ministry of Agriculture preventing the trade or transportation of cattle between governorates.
Over 4,900 cases have been reported in Egypt since the outbreak and until March 8, out of which 255 had died, according to Suheir Hassan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture for preventative medicine.
During Sunday’s PA session, MPs called on the need for appropriate compensation to all farmers who are losing their stock to the disease.
“Field Marshal [Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council,] has called me personally and said the compensation is ready. However, the problem is that when we announced that there will be compensation, more farmers have been reporting the disease, with some claiming they have seven animals when they only have one,” the minister told parliament.
Nasssar explained that FMD has been in Egypt for over 200 years and has been contained this whole time, but that like any virus or disease it has an outbreak period.
“It’s not in anyone’s hand, the outbreak and spread of the disease is up to fate,” he said, responding to allegations that there are cases that were not reported.
Out of seven types of the virus, the health ministry said the one spread in Egypt at the moment was O. However, in a later report by the official news agency MENA, officials said they found traces of the SAT-2 strain of the virus, which is not part of the customary vaccine.
“Meat and milk are completely safe,” the minister affirmed, adding that FMD poses no risk to humans. “There have been 40 cases in 100 years in the whole world.”
According to the health ministry, humans are infected in case of a contact between infected cattle skin and an open wound.
An independent authority for veterinary services has been formed via a presidential decree in order to deal with the disease, in addition to more than 1,500 veterinarians employed in all veterinary units in all governorates around the country.
The PA listed a number of recommendations for the government in order to handle the disease, including banning the transportation of infected animals until treatment, allowing the importing of medicines for treatment and having supervision of all veterinary units.
Officials have been stressing the importance of the “safe burial” of dead burial, while also encouraging citizens to immediately report infections in order to provide treatment.
FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease that affects livestock with significant economic impact as it affects cattle and swine as well as sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed ruminants, according the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
In Beheira governorate, where reportedly the first wave of the disease appeared, 237 cases have been reported, according to a Sunday statement by Mahmoud Fareed, deputy minister for veterinarian affairs in Beheira.
On its part, the Ministry of Health confirmed that there are no human cases of FMD in Egypt.
Last Thursday, a patient who was suspected to have FMD, was transferred to the Tanta Fever Hospital. “[The patient] tested negative to FMD, it turned out he has Herpes Simplex,” said Amr Kandil, deputy minister for cautionary medicine.
Kandil explained that once it was reported that the patient may have FMD, a committee from the precautionary medicine unit and from the Health Affairs Administration in Gharbeya went to conduct the necessary tests.
“According to OIE, FMD is not readily transmissible to humans and the last case found in humans was in 1969,” he said.