The detection of foot-and-mouth in Argentina is bad news for major beef producers throughout southernmost South America admitted Brazilian and Uruguayan cattle breeders associations.
"Any news that discredits the health and sanitary policies of the South American beef industry is bad news for us," said Antônio Jorge Camardelli, director of the Brazil Beef Exporters Association.
The outbreak in northeastern Argentina, while close to the Paraguayan border, was more than 400 kilometers from prime cattle ranching areas of Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil and a similar distance from cattle-ranching lands in Uruguay.
The World Organization for Animal Health requires at least a 10-kilometer radius quarantine zone around areas with foot-and-mouth disease.
Nonetheless, Uruguayan authorities in Montevideo said they were taking preventive measures along the border by sending teams to disinfect trucks at border crossings and double-checking that all local cattle are vaccinated.
The development of events is "negative news", said Ernesto Agazzi, Uruguay’s Deputy Agriculture and Livestock Minister but he added "our country has already taken measures" against any spread of the disease.
Uruguay suffered the backlash of Argentina’s 2001 outbreak, losing hundreds of millions of US dollars in exports because buyers were wary of purchasing meat anywhere in the region.
Foot-and-mouth is a severe and highly contagious viral disease of cattle that also can afflict goats, sheep, hogs and cloven-hoofed animals.
Fever and blistery lesions on the tongue, lips and hoofs of the animal often erupt, causing reductions in meat and milk production of surviving animals. The virus which comes in different strains can spread rapidly among livestock.
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