Region Plans Control of Livestock Disease ease

Cambodia on Tuesday concluded regional talks aimed at establishing control measures for foot-and-mouth disease, one of the world’s most infectious livestock diseases and a barrier to international trade.

Plans to control animal movement and reduce dangerous smuggling throughout the lower Me­­kong region were concluded this week in Phnom Penh by animal health officials from Vietnam, Tha­iland, Laos, Malaysia and Cambodia.

“It’s a very important trade barrier disease for our livestock, which will impact small farmers’ ability to develop the market,” said Dr Sen Sovann, deputy director of the Agriculture Ministry’s Ani­mal Health and Production De­partment.

The livestock trade makes up 14 percent of Cambodia’s agricultural commerce, which comprises 46 percent of the gross domestic product, Sen Sovann said.

Foot-and-mouth, a viral infection found in cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs and cows, is transmitted via contaminated vehicles, clothing and exposed animals. It does not seriously affect humans.

Foot-and-mouth is endemic throughout the region, according to Dr John Edwards, regional coordinator of the World Organ­ization for Animal Health’s South­east Asia Foot-and-Mouth Disease Campaign. More than 1,000 cows in Cam­bodia got sick in April 2000, when pigs imported from Vietnam infected cattle and buffalo across the country.

The group proposed establishing a control zone in the southern part of the country to monitor cattle and swine passing between Cam­bodia and Thailand or Viet­nam. Awareness and incentive campaigns would reduce the virus’ spread to villages along covert trade routes.

Existing control measures—bor­der checkpoints involving taxes and paperwork—only en­courage smuggling and further spread the disease, Edwards said.

The Cambodian government’s commitment to control is limited. The government in 2001 removed veterinarians from border crossings to facilitate trade, and it does not enforce a 2002 subdecree re-establishing border checkpoints, Sen Sovann said.

The absence of control could lead to further outbreaks, damaging Cambodia’s trade potential and increasing livestock deaths from starvation and secondary infections, said Dr Kamarundin Md Isa of Malaysia’s Department of Veterinary Services.

To protect Cambodia’s only legal enterprise exporting cattle and buffalo to Malaysia—the Mong Reththy Group’s MRT-RML Livestock Corp—the government must make efforts to monitor animal health, he said.


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