Vaccines to curb spread of foot-and-mouth disease

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has donated 600,000 doses of vaccine for foot and mouth disease, worth over 400,000 euros, to Laos for the prevention and control of the disease, which is fatal to livestock.

The vaccine was presented to the agriculture and forestry sector in Luang Prabang province last week by the Deputy Sub-Regional Representative, Sub-Regional Representation for South-East Asia (SRR-SEA), OIE, Dr Dirk Van Aken to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham.

Dr Dirk Van Aken presents vaccines to Dr Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham.

The ceremony was attended by the Luang Prabang provincial Deputy Governor, Dr Bouakhong Nammavong and Director General of the Livestock and Fisheries Department, Dr Bounkhouang Khambounheuang, along with officials from the central and provincial levels.

The vaccine will help to reduce the death rates of livestock within the country, especially in the northern provinces where outbreaks take a heavy toll on livestock. It will help to protect the livelihoods of villagers who are reliant on their livestock and support food security.

The OIE, through its OIE SRR-SEA subordinate, has played a big part in local livestock capacity building, providing technical training and laboratory equipment for Department of Livestock and Fisheries staff, Dr Bounkhouang said.

Importantly, last year the OIE certified that Laos is free from Rinderpest disease. Through the Stop Transboundary Animal Disease and Zoonoses programme, the Lao government has received 220,000 doses of foot and mouth disease vaccine and fieldwork equipment, he added.

The vaccination campaign and public awareness on foot and mouth disease has been implemented in 734 villages of 38 districts across eight northern provinces.

As a result, foot and mouth disease outbreaks in the region have been reduced significantly, and there were only two outbreaks in 2012, a 70 per cent reduction from 2010-2011, Dr Bounkhouang reported.

Dr Bounkhouang said he hopes the support will continue for many years to come, helping Laos to become free of foot and mouth disease by 2020.

Disease outbreaks have had a huge financial impact on large ruminant smallholder farmers through direct losses due to mortality and indirect losses due to treatment costs. This has also had an impact on rural development and poverty reduction in many areas.

The Livestock and Fisheries Department will cooperate with the northern provinces to plan and conduct a foot and mouth disease vaccination campaign, especially in disease hotspot areas.