The Brazilian government received several notifications of temporary cancellations of beef purchases, following reports of an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in the municipality of Eldorado, in the northwest state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
The 15 European Union countries suspended beef imports from the states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, and São Paulo. Among others England will not buy meat from Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraná. Israel and South Africa refuse meat from any part of Brazil. Russia, which is Brazil’s biggest beef importer, has also suspended purchases.
Despite the embargoes, the president of the National Forum of Agricultural Defense Agencies (Fonesa), Altino Rodrigues Neto, informed that the government considers the health measures adopted up to this point sufficient to prevent the disease from spreading to other herds.
Nearly 600 head of cattle were sacrificed on the ranch where the outbreak was detected. And a ban has been imposed on the transportation of animals and animal products from Eldorado and four surrounding municipalities.
State and Ministry of Agriculture technicians in the region are conducting laboratory tests to determine whether the virus that infected the herd on the Vezozzo ranch is a type "O" variety. They are also investigating the origin of the outbreak, despite the campaign to vaccinate the state’s entire cattle herd in May.
At a meeting, Tuesday, October 11, in the Ministry of Agriculture with representatives of the states that border on Mato Grosso do Sul, it was decided that a Brazilian mission will go to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), in Paris, to show that the problem affects only the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
The reason is that the OIE suspended its resolution designating the state as rid of the disease. The suspension also applies to other states considered rid of hoof and mouth: Bahia, Tocantins, Sergipe, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro.
According to the president of the Fonesa, Brazil wants to demonstrate that it is capable of controlling the problem and was not negligent when it reported the existence of the outbreak.
The government also decided to hold another meeting on Friday, October 14, this time with secretaries from the states that are in the hoof and mouth disease-free zone, to standardize animal health protection measures.
Hoof and mouth disease is caused by a virus. There are three varieties of the virus in Brazil: types "A," "C," and "O." The disease is not transmissible to humans, but it results in losses to cattle ranchers.
It causes mouth sores and debility in animals. As a consequence, part of the affected herd dies in a matter of days, and the animals that survive present substantial weight loss.
The seriousness of the disease is mainly economic in nature: less milk production, slower growth, and cows more likely to abort. The virus infects the animal’s saliva, and its slobber contaminates the pastures, pens, and roads with which it comes into contact.
In frozen carcasses, the virus remains alive for months, chiefly in the bone marrow, and is present in bone meal and hides as well.