Foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia rekindles fears in Brazil with the withdrawal of vaccination

Maurício Fraga (L), president of Acripará, and Luís Felipe Barros, president of Instituto Desenvolvimento Pecuária are cautious about the end of herd vaccination – Photos: Disclosure

From the editorial staff //AGROemDIA

The recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia has rekindled the concern of livestock representatives with the withdrawal of vaccination against the disease in Brazil, scheduled for 2026. There are fears that the virus detected in the Southeast Asian country could cause problems in other regions of the planet. This, they warn, could put Brazil in a risky situation because of its huge land border, with more than 15,000 kilometers in length, which would make health surveillance difficult in less structured states, located next to South America’s neighbors.

The president of the Association of Breeders of Pará (Acripará), Maurício Fraga Filho, considers it reckless to withdraw the vaccine in Brazil until all of South America has eradicated the foot-and-mouth disease. For him, the ideal would be for Brazil to wait for neighboring countries to advance in their programs to eliminate the disease and then ask the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), based in Paris, for a joint declaration by South America as free. of foot-and-mouth disease without vaccination. Today, Brazil is free of foot-and-mouth disease, with areas with and without immunization.

“I’m afraid [de parar de vacinar o rebanho]. The idea [com o fim da imunização] is to conquer new markets, but Uruguay exports to the best markets and does not talk about withdrawing the vaccine. Therefore, I do not see the need to take the risk of withdrawing the vaccine against foot-and-mouth disease by 2026. Not least because there has never been unanimity on this issue in Brazilian livestock”, says Fraga, clarifying that Pará, with about 25 million heads of cattle and buffaloes, follows the official schedule of the national foot-and-mouth disease eradication program.

The president of Acripará cites another issue when defending the maintenance of vaccination, or at least the extension of the withdrawal period. “There are several states where health defense agencies are getting low grades. [de avaliação]. This shows that we are not fully prepared to stop vaccination. I think withdrawing the vaccine [conforme o atual cronograma] is to take an unnecessary risk. The ideal would be to wait until all agencies are well equipped and the disease is eradicated across South America.”

Fraga lists one more aspect that makes him against the withdrawal of the vaccine by 2026. According to him, the national vaccination schedule, established by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa), has enabled ranchers to carry out, in parallel, other treatments of the flock. “As we need to put the cattle in the corral to vaccinate against foot-and-mouth disease, we take the opportunity to give them vermifuges and do other procedures aimed at the health of the animals.” Even in this aspect, he points out, the end of vaccination is not a good measure.

Photo: Disclosure

Institute Develops Livestock

The president of the Instituto Desenvolvimento Pecuária, in Rio Grande do Sul, Luís Felipe Barros, is also cautious about the end of immunization against the disease. “While there is aftosa, we understand that the most prudent thing would be to keep vaccination. Canada, by the way, only buys meat from Brazil from states that have kept vaccination. Of course, the moment you withdraw [a vacina]we expand other markets, but most producers have been in favor of maintaining immunization.”

The extension of the dry Brazilian border makes the country more exposed to risk, which should have been considered in the Strategic Plan of the National Program for the Eradication and Prevention of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (PNEFA) – 2017-2026, which established the deadline for ending immunization. , points out Barros. “While there is no strict control in border areas, it would be more prudent to maintain vaccination. Even because we know that there is no effective control in these areas and that there is a certain fragility in relation to inspection.”

The director of the Instituto Desenvolvimento Pecuária also notes that economic crises in neighboring countries, such as the one currently experienced by Argentina, leave Brazil even more threatened in relation to the illegal transit of animals on the border, especially in RS, Santa Catarina and Paraná. These three states, together with Acre, Rondônia and parts of Amazonas and Mato Grosso, make up the first foot-and-mouth disease-free zone, without vaccination, already recognized by the OIE.

“We know that, due to the economic issue, a lot of cattle have been moving from Argentina to Brazil. And we don’t have a good control over the registration of signs and marks. This even makes it very difficult to control the origin of the cattle after they are in a truck or in a troop. It is difficult to know who is the real owner of the animals and there is no longer any way to search for their origin.”

In Barros’ assessment, Brazil needs to pay attention to the focus on Indonesia, despite the distance between the two countries. “We live in a globalized economy and, as we saw with Covid-19, a virus can spread easily. We need to look at this very carefully. If we had the vaccination [no RS]we wouldn’t be so worried.”

Focus on the municipality of Joia, a memory that scares

Although it has increased with the more than 230,000 cases of foot-and-mouth disease that have occurred in Indonesia, the concern about the withdrawal of vaccination also has another reason. “We do not have information about the health situation in Venezuela, our neighbor,” adds the president of Acripará. In addition, recalls Fraga, Colombia recorded outbreaks of the disease in 2018.

When cases of foot-and-mouth disease arise in some part of the planet, as now in Southeast Asia, Brazilian ranchers are apprehensive because Brazil has already experienced similar situations years ago, which were overcome with vaccination campaigns.

The memory that scares the most is the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Rio Grande do Sul municipality of Joia. In August 2000, almost a thousand men from the health and police forces, under the coordination of Mapa, went to the city in the northwest of RS for a mission that shocked the country: the slaughter, with a sanitary rifle, of about 11 thousand animals.

Brazilian livestock, owner of the largest commercial cattle herd on the planet, with more than 215 million head, and the world leader in beef exports, does not want this to happen again. That’s why there is so much caution among ranchers with the withdrawal of vaccination.

We live in a globalized economy and, as we saw with Covid-19, a virus can spread easily.”