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Press Release 98/06

FAO APPEALS FOR AID TO FIGHT LIVESTOCK DISEASES IN HORN OF AFRICA


Rome, February 10 -- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today that the combined effects of flooding and livestock diseases have killed tens of thousands of animals in northeastern Kenya and southern Somalia, appealing for US$2.5 million to help contain and combat the diseases.

The outbreaks of Rift Valley fever and other diseases followed the recent prolonged, unseasonal heavy rains which are thought to be linked to the El Niño weather effect. A fatal haemorrhagic fever in humans linked to Rift Valley fever is reported to have claimed several hundred lives. The heavy rain has provided ideal conditions for mosquitoes, midges and other biting flies which transmit diseases to multiply. The rain is forecast to continue and could link up with the regular rainy season starting in March and cause additional flooding.

The FAO appeal is one component of a joint consolidated appeal to donors by UN agencies involved in tackling the emergency. It warns: "The livestock are at risk from a number of the most serious transboundary infectious diseases, which could develop to epidemic proportions if unchecked." The most serious of these are rinderpest and peste des petits ruminants. There is an urgent need to define fully the extent of the affected area and the diseases posing a risk. In addition to the Rift Valley fever problem, FAO is asking all people involved with livestock to be on the alert for any possible signs of rinderpest.

Without basic health care and coordinated, intensive control of epidemic diseases, the combined effect of livestock diseases will impact severely on food security and human welfare already seriously compromised by loss of crop production." FAO warned.

Rift Valley fever has caused widespread abortions among goats and camels and this is expected to result in shortages of milk in coming months in areas where crops have been destroyed by the floods.

Experts of FAO's Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) said there was concern that the diseases may spread into southern Ethiopia.

The appeals seek funds for coordinating the systematic treatment of affected animals and control of potentially epidemic diseases, working in partnership with the Kenya Veterinary Service and the OAU IBAR, local communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kenya and with local communities and NGOs in southern Somalia.

"Many of these disease conditions can be ameliorated to a degree by treatment and the effects of a number of the major epidemic diseases can be mitigated by coordinated prophylactic and control activities," FAO said.

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Contact John Riddle at (396) 5705-3259, or john.riddle@fao.org for further information.

 

 

 


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