Somalia

Somalia: FAO denies upsurge in rinderpest disease

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NAIROBI, 5 February (IRIN) - The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has denied that there has been an upsurge in the cattle disease, rinderpest, in Somalia.
In a press release, issued on Wednesday, the FAO pointed out that rinderpest has been targeted for global eradication by 2010 and the disease is believed to be absent from Asia and the Middle East.

It said an earlier FAO press release, issued last November, had created the inference that the organisation was reporting an upsurge or epidemic of the disease in Somalia.

"This is not the case," the latest statement said. "Within the past decade, rinderpest has been progressively controlled and then eradicated from virtually the entire continent [Africa]."

"The only exception to this is the eastern Horn of Africa, which includes the Somali pastoral ecosystem and some adjoining areas of Kenya and Ethiopia, where, because of the difficulty of accessing cattle and pastoral populations, the exact status of rinderpest could not be ascertained," the statement said.

However, it stressed the virus was mild and urged interested Somali parties to work with the groups trying to eradicate the disease - such as the Pan African Programme for the Control of Epizootics (PACE) - by identifying areas where there are infected cattle "and eliminating the infection through targeted vaccination of the cattle involved".

"Achieving rinderpest freedom in Somalia will complete global eradication of this disease," the statement noted.

It stressed that this would "begin to reopen doors for trade in cattle and other livestock" by demonstrating that the Somali livestock sector could effectively monitor, control and report on major diseases, which, it said, was the prime requirement for livestock export.

[ENDS]

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