Indonesia launching nationwide vaccinations for foot and mouth disease

Indonesia launching nationwide vaccinations for foot and mouth disease

FILE PHOTO: A worker washes and cools down cattle for sale for the upcoming Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday in Depok, south of Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept 7, 2016. (Reuters)
FILE PHOTO: A worker washes and cools down cattle for sale for the upcoming Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday in Depok, south of Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept 7, 2016. (Reuters)

JAKARTA: Indonesia will this week launch a nationwide livestock vaccination programme, its agriculture ministry said on Monday, as the number of cattle infected with foot and mouth disease surged to more than 151,000.

Some of vaccines arrived on Sunday and 800,000 more doses will follow soon, said Kuntoro Boga Andri, the ministry spokesperson. He did not say how many vaccines had been received so far.

The government would prioritise healthy animals with a high risk of infection in livestock husbandry centres and cows kept by small farmers, among others, he added.

The disease has been found in 18 of the country's 34 provinces, with the number of infected livestock growing quickly from 20,000 less than a month ago.

The disease is highly transmissible and causes lesions and lameness in cattle, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals, but does not affect humans.

The government is aiming to import 3 million doses of vaccine for the disease from producers in France, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand, despite the agriculture minister expressing a preference for locally made vaccines, of which production is expected by the end of August.

Lawmakers had accused the government of being careless in letting the virus spread widely for the first time since the late 1980s. They have urged the government to ramp up efforts to prevent further spread.

The outbreak comes at a time of rising meat prices in Indonesia and ahead of Eid al-Adha, an important Islamic holiday where Muslims traditionally slaughter animals and share the meat with the poor.

Kuntoro said Indonesia had sufficient number of animals for the holiday. 

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