The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture has relaxed the timings of FMD vaccinations for cattle and buffaloes in response to the drought currently raging through the north east, giving an extension of up to 30 days to states in a state of emergency. The region’s Official Veterinary Services have been asked to send updates on the situation for analysis by the Department of Animal Health until 15 January, 2013.
Brazil's foot-and-mouth disease coordinator Plinio Lopes, explained that the measures were taken to protect Brazil’s cattle herd, which has been devastated by drought conditions.
“The vaccine does not pose a risk to the animal. The issue is that the animals affected by the drought are debilitated and handling them for vaccination may lead to losses that we do not want to add to the effects the drought is already having on livestock in the region,” he said.
He added that the relaxation of vaccination would not lead to outbreaks of the disease in the region. “The flexibility is technically and legally supported and offers no risk. The last occurrence of foot-and-mouth disease in the region was almost 10 years ago. Another issue is that the last vaccination in five north-eastern states was held in June. So we still have protective immunity for some time, especially in young animals, which are the most susceptible,” he said.
Brazil has been working towards becoming an foot-and-mouth disease-free country for several years. Currently, only the Brazilian states of Sergipe and Bahia have foot-and-mouth disease-free status.