Japan’s Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease Puts Washington Dairies On Alert

June 15, 2010 12:40 PM

Washington State Dairy Federation is cautioning dairy producers to be aware of Japan's recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) and to restrict visitors who may have recently visited Japan or been in contact with its livestock.


FMD infections have been confirmed in pigs and cattle on Japan's southern island of Kyushu.


The disease surfaced in April of this year and marked Japan's first FMD occurrence since 2000, according to the Office of International Epizootics.


On May 25,USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) placed additional restrictions on imports of live animal commodities from Japan due to FMD outbreak.


Since June 1, more cattle have been diagnosed with FMD in the island's Miyazaki Prefecture, sending shockwaves through the local community, Japan's online Mainichi Daily News reported last week.


In Miyazaki, a Japanese pig and beef cattle center, and in Hyuga, livestock has been slaughtered and buried as officials attempt to control the highly contagious disease. Some 270,000 cattle have been ordered slaughtered, Mainichi Daily News said June 10.


Livestock within a 10-kilometer radius of farms that have been hit by the disease have been vaccinated to slow the spread of infection before being slaughtered.


Japanese officials have attempted to control the disease with several measures, including stamping out (or destroying animals), quarantine, vaccination, movement control inside the country, and disinfection of infected premises.


Japan's government will cover the cost of efforts to tackle the disease under a special law aimed at preventing its spread, the Associated Press reported June 14.


In a weekend e-mail, Jay Gordon, executive director of the Washington State Dairy Federation, pointed to comments made by Masafumi Mukamoto, an associate professor at Osaka Prefecture University.


"Looking at the distances involved, it is highly probable that people and vehicles have carried the virus,” Mukamoto is quoted as saying. "After the animals are vaccinated, symptoms of the disease don't easily show up even if they are infected. When people come into contact with these cows they can carry the virus without knowing it."


Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at cmerlo@farmjournal.com. 


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