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Foot and mouth outbreak feared

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An outbreak of foot and mouth disease, also known as aphthous fever, has been reported among cattle in Kagitumba and Nyagatare communes, Mutara prefecture, northeastern Rwanda. Rwandan radio reported on Tuesday that authorities in the prefecture had announced a strict prohibition in the sale and transportation of cattle by lorries.

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious, acute viral infection that infects cloven-footed mammals, causing small blisters and erosions in the mouth and on the feet and teats. The disease is highly contagious by inhalation or ingestion and may spread over great distances with movement of infected or contaminated animals, products, objects, and people. It causes production losses due to abortion and subsequent infertility, both of which are common.

"All cattle markets will be closed from today [Tuesday]," Radio Rwanda quoted local officials as saying. These measures would affect the communes of Kagitumba, Nyagatare, Bugaragara and Muvumba all in Mutara prefecture, according to the report. The veterinary department and the national police were responsible for the "strict enforcement of these measure", it said.

Kagitumba and Nyagatare communes are said to have the highest livestock concentration. Because of the speed with which it spreads, the trade sanctions that are imposed on countries in which it occurs and the loss of production in affected animals, FMD is considered by some to be the world's most important animal diseases. People can be infected through skin wounds or handling diseased stock, or by drinking infected milk, but not by eating meat from infected animals. The human infection is temporary and mild. FMD is not considered a public health problem.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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