Foot and mouth disease, which infects cattle, could severely harm the ruminant livestock industry, with yearly losses estimated at Rp9.9 trillion.

Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo made this cautious comment during a recent meeting with House Commission IV.

Foot and mouth illness first appeared in Indonesia around a month ago. At the beginning of May, it was only in the provinces of East Java and Aceh. However, by the end of the month, the disease had spread to 16 Indonesian provinces.

According to ministry data as of May 22, 2022, the disease had spread in 16 provinces and 82 districts and cities, infecting 5,454,454 livestock and sickening 20,723 others.

Since the disease’s emergence in 1887, Indonesia had been disease-free since 1990. However, the sickness reappeared, altering this status.

A virus was responsible for the sickness. Although it was not zoonosis in the sense that it would transmit from animal to human, the quick animal-to-animal transmission could be costly.

The transmission could take place through direct contact or through aerial mechanisms. It could be transmitted not just from animal to animal, but also from a sick human to an animal or from a sick animal to a healthy one without proper cleaning.

Denny Widaya Lukman, a veterinarian at the Bogor Agricultural Institute, explained that foot and mouth disease is an infectious disease that affects animals with split hooves, such as cows, buffaloes, camels, elephants, deer, goats, sheep, and pigs.

Blisters would form on the diseased animals’ tongues, gums, noses, and nails.

Despite the virus’s low mortality rate, this sickness is highly contagious, with a morbidity rate of 100 percent.

According to reports, the death rate was at most 5%, but in younger animals, it may approach 20%. The animal died as a result of its inability to eat or drink, resulting in a lack of nourishment.

“Animals infected with foot and mouth illness had symptoms such as blisters on the mouth, thick and foamy saliva surrounding the lips, and wounds on the legs,” Lukman explained.

According to the agriculture ministry, the recovery rate for these afflicted animals is high, with a ceiling of 33%.

According to their data, 6,896 animals, or 33.29 percent, were cured; 162, or 0.78 percent, were butchered; and 142, or 0.69 percent, died.

Because the disease could not be communicated to humans, diseased animals may be eaten as long as they were properly cooked.

It was important noting that contaminated portions like the feet, tongue, lips, and internal organs could not be swallowed.

However, it could not be denied that the outbreak would have a significant impact on domestic meat and milk output. With tens of thousands of cattle sick, the drop in produce was not surprising.

Other losses include a drop in exports due to concerns about the quality of Indonesian products that are allegedly tainted by the disease.

It would also harm the ruminant sector, and Indonesia’s image would suffer as a result.

A prompt answer

The House of Representatives’ Commission IV encouraged the government, through the Agriculture Ministry, to address the national issue of foot and mouth disease as soon as possible.

Only eradication by vaccine might deal with the problem. Although the disease’s fatality rate was low and the animals could recover, the virus might spread to all sorts of areas, infecting other animals instead.

As a result, vaccination was the only option to assure that Indonesia was clear of the disease. Just like in 1974, when mass vaccinations were used to eradicate the outbreak.

Vaccination, on the other hand, should not be a one-time event. It must be repeated every year until the illness is eradicated from Indonesia.

Minister Limpo said that the Agriculture Ministry’s Center of Veterinarians discovered the serotype of foot and mouth disease growing rampantly in Indonesia. The vaccination would be based on this serotype.It’s crunch time in the battle against foot and mouth disease.

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The vaccine was scheduled to be completed in August 2022, following which it would be widely distributed.

“With God’s help, (it will be completed) in a very short (period of) time.” “The Agriculture Ministry’s Center of Veterinarian is now creating the foot and mouth disease vaccine, which is expected to be completed in four months or before August 2022,” he said.

Aside from preventing infection through a better immune system supplied by the vaccination, it might also be accomplished by making measures to keep it from infecting cattle in the first place.

Veterinarian Dicky M. Dikman M. Phill, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s Research Center for Beef Cattle Research and Development, claimed that activities spanning from maintenance to livestock health management could reduce disease spread among animals.

To raise healthy livestock, cultivation management was used. Maintenance could be done intensively, semi-intensively, or extensively.

“We (used) an intense system to reduce the risk of airborne transmission in outbreak locations.” “The foods offered might be forage and concentrates according to the demands and productivity,” he explained.

Biosecurity could help to improve cultivation by preventing the spread of foot and mouth disease.

Biosecurity comprised physical and managerial efforts to reduce the risk of disease agents spreading on the farm, prevent disease development, and block disease agent transmission from the farm.

“Biosecurity is critical for smallholder farms as well as private enterprise farms.” We (impose stronger rules on) personnel entering and exiting the cage for lodging. “Visits by guests or others are likewise restricted till the pandemic fades,” he added.

Disinfectants to be sprayed on arriving and departing vehicles; sanitation equipment for cage workers, such as lockers, restrooms, and showers; spraying booths for police; and cage sanitation were among the amenities that had to be prepared.

Other important activities included spraying insecticides around the cattle pens to control insects, flies, and other pests.

This was done to maintain the cage environment clean and to minimise illness spread.

Sick cattle must be handled right away. If cattle dies from foot and mouth disease, their bodies must be burned or buried as soon as possible.

Contaminated cattle were either slaughtered or their infected tissues were removed.

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