Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Disease kills 75,000 goats in Congo

UNITED NATIONS, June 26 (UPI) -- A livestock disease has killed 75,000 goats in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and many more goats and sheep are at risk of contracting it, officials say.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said DRC authorities report 1 million goats and 600,000 sheep are threatened by peste des petits ruminants, considered the most destructive viral disease affecting small flocks, the U.N. agency said in a release.

"This is the worst livestock epidemic in the country in more than 10 years," the organization's representative in DRC, Ndiaga Gueye, said in the release.

Farmers, he said, have been moving their animals away from infected villages, which in turn has spread the virus to healthy flocks.

A recent emergency mission by the U.N. organization and the World Organization for Animal Health found the current outbreaks especially lethal, with an 86 percent mortality rate in goats.

An emergency FAO project will provide money for vaccinating 500,000 sheep and goats in areas not yet affected, raising awareness through rural radio and village meetings about steps farmers can take to prevent the disease and increasing surveillance for it.

The disease does not affect humans but can cause extensive social and economic losses, the release said.

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