4 March 2011, Rome/Paris - A team of animal health specialists from FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has arrived in North Korea to assist veterinary authorities there in responding to outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth disease among pigs and cattle.
The group consists of a veterinarian specializing in FMD and transboundary animal diseases, a logistics officer and a laboratory technician fielded by FAO, and a veterinarian specialist in disease management from OIE.
DPRK veterinary officials are also participating in the mission, which is a collaborative effort between North Korea and the two organisations.
The aim of the mission is to assess the situation on the ground in order to provide situation-specific guidance and technical assistance to North Korean veterinary officials to help them contain outbreaks and stop further spread of the disease.
The FAO-OIE team will also help the DPRK with longer-term prevention planning. For example, testing samples of the virus involved in the outbreaks to acquire a precise understanding of its genetic make-up will allow North Korea to identify the most appropriate and effective vaccines to use.
The mission, which started 28 February, will last approximately 10-14 days.
FMD is a highly contagious disease affecting cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, swine and other cloven-hoofed animals. It does not pose a direct health threat to humans, but affected animals become too weak to be used to plough the soil or reap harvests, and farmers cannot sell the milk they produce, which can severely impact household food security.