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US urges action on global cattle disease

U.N. urges collective action to combat foot-and-mouth disease

BANGKOK | June 28, 2012

" animal diseases have no boundaries"

—Hiroyuki Konuma

A global strategy to combat foot-and-mouth disease must be based on collective action and solid commitments from all countries, the U.N. food agency says.

Foot-and-mouth disease, which affects all cloven-hoofed animals including sheep, goats, cattle, buffalo and pigs, causes serious production losses and can be fatal, particularly to younger animals.

"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, Food and Agriculture Organization regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said.

He was addressing the opening session of a foot-and-mouth disease conference in Bangkok Wednesday.

While the disease does not directly affect humans, the FAO cited the negative impact it has on poor farmers whose livelihoods often depend on just a few animals, the loss of which can lead to hunger and economic ruin.

The agency estimates a $5 billion global annual cost of the disease in terms of production losses and the need for prevention by vaccination.

It cited the effort against another cattle disease, rinderpest, as evidence of the effectiveness of cooperation.

"The successful eradication of rinderpest, a joint effort by scientists, governments, donors, veterinarians and farmers, clearly shows that we can reduce and even eliminate the threat of major diseases," the FAO's chief veterinary officer, Juan Lubroth, said in a statement.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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