Resurgence of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Tunisia
Since 25 April 2014 several outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) have been reported in different regions of Tunisia on cattle and sheep farms. The Government of Tunisia immediately implemented a contingency plan covering passive and active surveillance of the disease, slaughtering sick animals, vaccinating in livestock farms (circa 5 km around the outbreak) and markets close to FMD outbreaks, restricting animal movements and raising awareness among all stakeholders including veterinary services, public authorities, livestock farmers, traders and consumers.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provided initial technical assistance to Tunisia in managing the crisis. This was achieved through the support of the European Commission for the control of FMD (EuFMD) to the Mediterranean Animal Health Network (REMESA). Currently, FAO is providing further support to formulate a project for emergency assistance following an official request from the Government of Tunisia.
The disease has a highly contagious rate and consequent heavy socio-economic impact on food security. This is due to the economic losses relating to the high mortality of juveniles and the loss of productivity in adults as well as the barriers to movement and trade of animals and their products.
Given the significant negative impact of FMD, FAO recommends a number of emergency measures to be undertaken by the countries in the region, including the need to increase disease surveillance and enhance the control strategy for FMD, focusing in particular on contingency plans and vaccination in the region. Further recommendations include raising awareness on the importance of biosecurity measures among the different stakeholders through continuous exchange of information and coordination between the countries concerned. FAO also calls for regional and international cooperation for the mobilization of resources to combat this highly contagious transboundary animal disease.