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FMD Spreading Rapidly in Egypt

15 March 2012

EGYPT - In the space of only 48 hours, as many as 5,000 cattle have died of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), leading to a boycott of meat and dairy products in every village in el-Gharbiya.

Veterinary units have ignored the problem and haven’t responded to the farmers’ complaints. If the Government doesn’t do something soon, things will only go from bad to worse, reports TheEgyptianGazette.

Many fellaheen have accused el-Gharbiya Governor Mohamed Abdel-Qader and veterinary officials of negligence; they are holding a sit-in outside the Governorate’s headquarters, with their dead cattle.

Thousands of breeders and farmers have been protesting in five villages in el-Gharbiya, demanding that Abdel-Qader resign.

Gamal Atwa, a cattle breeder, says that the veterinary unit in his village doesn’t help the farmers.

“We had to pay for a vet ourselves. He said that our cattle are all infected with foot-and-mouth. We are losing up to five calves every day, even though we’re doing what the vet told us,” he explains.

Although the veterinary units in the village bought a vaccine for the disease two months ago, the cattle are infected and the veterinary units are not listening to the peasants’ complaints.

Eid Sadeq, another cattle breeder, says that a good, healthy calf fetches LE80,000 ($13,300), but now cows of every age are dying.

Sayyed Hamed, another breeder, says that the disease appeared in January, but the governmental bodies aren’t offering them any assistance.

“I’m losing LE40,000 a week. In fact it’s more than that, as I use the profits from my dairy products to buy fodder for the cattle. Some of my workers are leaving, because they’re afraid of the animals infecting them,” he told Al-Ahram local newspaper.

Meanwhile, the General Authority for Veterinary Services (GAVS) has announced a state of emergency in some governorates. It has cordoned off the infected farms, preventing animals from going out and coming in.

Osama Selim, head of the GAVS, told Al-Masri Al-Youm independent newspaper that is transmitted by infected animals or by the people who look after them.

“The disease has existed in Egypt for decades, but now it’s spreading like wildfire because farmers don’t vaccinate their animals every six months from the age of four years on.

“Infected animals stop eating their fodder so their milk yields plummet, while 50 per cent of calves infected with the virus die. Because of the disease, gangs have been smuggling African calves into Egypt via the Libyan border,” he explained.



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