FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE NOW IN YEMEN! [Archives:2001/12/Front Page]

March 19 2001

Yemen Times Hodeidah correspondent reported with evidence the breakout of the viral disease “foot-and-mouth” that has infected tens of cows, goats, and sheep in the governorate. The first cases were identified last week on the Tihama Coast, particularly in Abs, Haradh, Aslam, and the western areas of Al-Mahabisha region, where several animals died after suffering from the symptoms of the disease. Foot-and-mouth disease is characterized by a sudden rise in temperature, followed by an eruption of blisters in the mouth, on areas of tender skin such as the udder in females, and on the feet; blisters may also appear in the nostrils. Salivation and frequent smacking of the lips accompany the eruption. The blisters grow larger and then break, exposing raw, eroded surfaces. Eating becomes difficult and painful, and because the soft tissues under the hoof are inflamed, the animal invariably becomes lame and may shed its hooves. Livestock raised for meat lose much weight, and dairy cattle and goats give less milk. Often the disease kills very young animals and causes pregnant females to abort. The crippling effect is extremely serious where oxen are used as draft animals, leading to possible death. 
Lack of awareness of the disease’s contagious nature has made it impossible for many villagers to preserve the health of their livestock. Conditions are reaching extreme levels, especially as the government has yet to realize that an outbreak of the disease has occurred. 
“If action is not taken and certain measures are not applied, there could be disastrous effects on the economy of the farmers and the nation as a whole, as hundreds of thousands depend on livestock as their source of income,” said YT Hodeidah correspondent Abdo Darwish Zeidan.


It is worth noting that the region where the cases appeared was quite close to the Saudi border (40 km south of Saudi Arabia). This is the same region where Rift Valley disease started to spread last year before being controlled. 
Saudi Arabia had earlier this week admitted the discovery of two cases of the disease, while the UAE had 2 cases. Several Arab countries are bracing themselves for a possible outbreak of the disease which has caused tremendous economic loss to many European countries. 
Even though the disease does not affect humans in any way, Foot-and-mouth disease nevertheless remains a threat to livestock raisers and the meat-packing, dairy, leather, and wool industries.