FAO targeting total eradication of “devastating” livestock disease

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A kid goat walks around a courtyard in Kokologo, Burkina Faso. FAO@PHOTO

The world can stamp out a plague that devastates sheep and goats, freeing hundreds of millions of rural families from one of the major risks to their food security and livelihoods.

That’s according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is working with the World Organization for Animal Health on a 15-year campaign to wipe out sheep and goat plague.

The disease, which provokes high fever, rapid emaciation and respiratory collapse, causes annual global losses of at least US$1.45 billion each year.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

There are reportedly around 2.1 billion small ruminants worldwide.

FAO says these animals, such as goats and sheep, represent an important asset for a third of poor rural households in developing countries.

With the World Organization for Animal Health, the UN agriculture agency is outlining a strategy for the total eradication by 2030 of what is called in French la “Peste des petits ruminants”.

The launch of the campaign is taking place at an international conference in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where it was first diagnosed in the 1940s.

FAO says the plague has expanded rapidly in the past 15 years and is now present in around 70 countries across South and East Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

If left uncontrolled, the agency warns, it will likely reach Europe.

Without a concerted effort aimed at eradication, FAO reports that the global price tag is likely to run between US$4 and US$5.5 billion over the next 15 years.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

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