Veterinarian raises alarm as foot-and-mouth disease likely to enter Timor-Leste

Veterinarian raises alarm as foot-and-mouth disease likely to enter Timor-Leste

Timorese veterinarian, and lecturer at the Lorosa'e National University (UNTL), Alipio de Almeida (Photo Tatoli/Filomeno Martins)

DILI, 04 october 2022 (TATOLI) – Timor-Leste’s veterinarian raised alarm as the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is likely to enter Timor-Leste after its outbreak in Indonesia, in early july, this year.

Timorese veterinarian, Alipio de Almeida said due to a lack of human resources and facilities makes it difficult for Timor-Leste to control the disease if it enters Timor-Leste’s territory.

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock that has a significant economic impact.

The disease affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed ruminants. Intensively reared animals are more susceptible to the disease than traditional breeds.

FMD outbreaks are common in Asia, the Middle East, South America, and parts of Africa. FMD had been recently detected in Indonesia, one of Timor-Leste’s closest neighbors.

“In may, 2022, an outbreak of FMD was reported in Indonesia. The FDM had also been identified two months later in Bali and Sumba which is very close to Timor-Leste,” Almeida said.

He said the mortality rate of the disease is 25% in animals and the morbidity rate of FMD reaches up to 100%: “Due to lack of veterinarian, medicines, vaccines, and facilities, I think we may not be able to control the disease and save our cattle.”

He emphasized that biosecurity is the only way to prevent the disease from entering Timor-Leste.

“We need to disinfect those people who are coming from the affected areas, like Indonesia, especially Bali and Sumba. We also need to disinfect all other imported products at the ports, airports, and border zones,” he said/

Almeida said currently, Timor-Leste doesn’t have a laboratory to test all the imported meat from other countries: ” Thus, it’s difficult for us to prevent the FMD from entering the country.”

He added the government of Timor-Leste through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) must take a serious step to tighten meat import rules for Foot-and-Mouth Disease: “We need to ban meat products from all countries with foot-and-mouth disease.”

The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) recommends that implementing stronger biosecurity is important to avoid disease spread to new areas.

Livestock production, livelihoods, food security, and even food prices would be severely impacted if the disease enter the country.

Almeida said therefore it’s important to raise the awareness of the communities on the prevention and control of the FMD in Timor-Leste.

Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Nelia Borges


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