FAO mitigating threat of  foot-and-mouth disease in West Africa

FAO mitigating threat of foot-and-mouth disease in West Africa

15/12/2020

United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency funded regional training of national epidemiology and laboratory officers on foot-and-mouth disease field outbreak investigations and laboratory diagnosis

A regional virtual training on foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease outbreak investigation and laboratory diagnosis has been conducted in two sessions, on 18 and 19 November 2020 for English and French-speaking West African countries, respectively.  

FMD is a highly contagious, acute, vesicular disease of cloven-hoofed domestic and wild animals. The disease poses significant economic constraints through reduced productivity and impacts on international trade in live animals and their products. In West Africa, serotypes O, A, SAT 1 and SAT 2 of the FMD virus have been confirmed to be in circulation. However, the FMD situation is constantly evolving necessitating regular typing of circulating FMD virus strains to enhance the effectiveness of control measures.  

This virtual training kickstarts a number of project activities funded by the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and addressing FMD and other transboundary animal diseases at global level and in several regions. In West Africa, the project is implemented with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) for West and Central Africa, based in Accra. 

The opening ceremony was honoured with the presence of the FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, Jocelyn Brown Hall, who affirmed that “the region will benefit from FAO's support to control FMD, which is a highly contagious viral disease with significant economic repercussions and which affects, to varying degrees, cattle, buffalo, pigs, sheep, goats and certain wild species." She emphasized that “FMD has devastating consequences for national economies and the livelihoods of livestock keepers.” The FAO ECTAD Regional Manager, Baba Soumare confirmed his “appreciation for DTRA's support to reduce the negative impacts of FMD in the region."

With this training of laboratory and epidemiology staff from national veterinary services across the region, FAO has initiated a series of project interventions to reduce the threats caused by FMD, which will also benefit the risk mitigation efforts of other transboundary animal diseases. Participants learned about the importance of updating and sharing information on the FMD situation and the circulating serotypes in their countries and their capacities will be further strengthened in the areas of field investigation, sample collection and transport, as well as FMD laboratory diagnosis. Participants also shared their challenges in addressing FMD in their countries, including the lack of laboratory capacity and unavailability of diagnostic material to support surveillance and diagnosis. The introduction of pen-side tests under this project will enhance rapid disease detection in the field and secure safe sample submission to reference laboratories. Finally, participants were also taken through outbreak investigation approaches and biosecurity measures for field work and sampling. All of these efforts will support countries to progress along the Progressive Control Pathway for FMD in accordance with the Global FMD Control Strategy.  

Through the implementation of this DTRA-funded project and other FMD control related activities in the region, FAO will contribute to mitigating the risks and impact of FMD in line with its commitment to protecting livelihoods and ensuring food security.