BANGKOK – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) released a strategy to control food-and-mouth (FMD) disease on a global scale. The announcement came during an international meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

The global strategy combines two tools: the Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway and the Progressive Control Pathway for Foot-and-Mouth Disease (PCP-FMD). PVS evaluates national veterinary services with the aim of bringing them into compliance with OIE quality standards. The PCP-FMD guides countries through a series of incremental steps to better manage FMD risks, beginning with active surveillance to establish what types of FMD virus strains are circulating in the country and neighboring areas.

"One main objective of the Global Strategy is to allow FMD control worldwide through the strengthening of veterinary services responsible for animal disease control," said Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General. "Positive effects of the strategy will extend far beyond the control of FMD because it represents an opportunity to initiate long-term actions which will enhance veterinary services' capacity to fight other high-impact diseases of livestock.

"At the regional level the South-East Asia and China FMD campaign (SEACFMD) program managed by OIE/Bangkok is considered as a very efficient model," he added.

FMD is not a threat to human health, but economic losses due to the disease have been estimated at $5 billion annually. FMD can cause death in newborn and young animals, according to the FAO. Weight loss, reduced milk yields and lower fertility are after-effects of the disease. An animal stricken with FMD could mean economic ruin and starvation for the poorest farmers, who often depend on a few animals for food and income.