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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Foot and mouth disease hits Gaza; Hamas says "don't worry"

AP reports:
A U.N. agency says Egypt’s outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has reached neighboring Gaza Strip and could soon spread across the Middle East.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said Wednesday the disease was detected in Gaza’s southern border town of Rafah on April 19.

Juan Lubroth, FAO’s chief veterinary officer, says vaccines are in short supply and animal movement must be limited. He says the disease risks spreading to the Gulf, southern and eastern Europe and further.
But the Hamas government in Gaza says, relax!
An official in Gaza's ministry of agriculture said farmers had received 20,000 doses of vaccine to fight the disease and played down the seriousness of the outbreak.

"The problem surfaced at one farm in Rafah and we isolated the farm and stopped the movement of animals across Gaza," Adel Attalah told Reuters.

"We received the 20,000 vaccines a week ago and ... I can say that most of the animals were given the vaccine," he said, adding that his ministry had now lifted restrictions on the movement of animals. "The situation is not worrying," he said.

What he doesn't say is that those vaccines - and probably the diagnosis - came from Israel, which has taken this very seriously starting two weeks ago:
Today (4/22) a meeting was held between veterinarians from Israel and Gaza at the Gaza DCL due to a concern that the foot and mouth disease might have begun spreading in Rafah, which is in the Gaza Strip.

During the meeting the participants discussed the issue of handling the disease and stopping it from spreading to the rest of the Gaza Strip.As a first step 20,000 doses against the disease were delivered through the Erez Crossing this last Thursday(19\4).

Israel began to handle the spreading of the disease starting on April 13th during the Passover holiday, when the Agriculture Coordinator at the DCL was urgently called to Erez Crossing in order to receive samples of the disease from his Palestinian colleagues.

These samples were transferred to the laboratory of the veterinary services in order to examine the disease and ways to deal with it.
And this is a new, rare strain of FMD:
With vaccines in short supply the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations warn that animals should not be moved around Gaza to stop the spread of a new strain of foot and mouth disease. The UN body says international efforts need to step in to stop the virus from spreading further in the Middle East and North Africa.

Following outbreaks of the SAT2 strain of the virus in Egypt and Libya in February, fears that it might jump to neighboring areas were confirmed on 19 April when sick animals were detected in Rafah, a town in the Gaza Strip bordering Egypt. The SAT2 variant is new to the region, meaning that animals do not have any acquired resistance to it.

“Diseases simply do not respect international boundaries, and if FMD SAT2 reaches deeper into the Middle East it could spread throughout vast areas, threatening the Gulf countries – even southern and eastern Europe, and perhaps beyond” said Juan Lubroth, FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer and head of the organization’s Animal Health Service.

With vaccines against the SAT2 virus still in short supply, the priority at the moment is to limit animal movements to prevent its further spread, he said. Heightened surveillance of animal populations to quickly detect and respond to new outbreaks is also critical.
Right now Israel is the firewall between this disease and the center of the Arab world, not to mention Europe.

At this point is sounds like Hamas doesn't give a damn.