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Saudis say foot and mouth disease spreads
Riyadh,20th March 2001

  More than 4,000 cases of foot and mouth disease are believed to have broken out in Saudi Arabia, but only 15 per cent of the cases have been reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Water, said a senior official in the ministry yesterday. The disease has started to break out rapidly from the beginning of this month, especially among imported cattle.

Farm owners do not report the cases they discover because they think that the authorities will also slaughter healthy animals along with those infected to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease. They resort instead to veterinarians to vaccinate their animals, the official who preferred anonymity, said. The disease has been detected in all regions in Saudi Arabia and though there are no accurate statistics of the infected cases, there are signs that the disease is spreading quickly, he said.

The official expressed his deep concern over the possibility of the spread of the disease in dairy farms. There are big dairy farms such as Al Safi, which has over 20,000 cows. He noted that the spread of the disease on such a farm will adversely affect the supply of dairy products in the country.

The official called on all farmers to report any foot-and-mouth disease cases and warned that his ministry will impose penalties on those who fail to report these cases. "The ministry has provided vaccines to vaccinate animals in infected areas and farmers whose animals were slaughtered by the authorities will be compensated," he said.

Source: Gulf News

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20 March 2001 06:07:54 PM

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