“Hundreds of animals have died”: a widespread outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Israel

For several months now, a severe epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease has been raging in Israel among farm animals, and even worse, among animals intended for slaughter for food, and they are not protected from it. This emerges from an investigation of “Israel against live shipments” that we are publishing for the first time, following which a query submitted to the Minister of Agriculture Oded Forer by MK Ofer Kasif (the joint list) will be presented to the Knesset plenum today.

Apparently, the disease broke out in Israel after arriving from the Palestinian Authority, but despite the fact that it is an unknown strain that has not yet been isolated in Israel, and that a vaccine used by the Ministry of Agriculture’s veterinary services does not protect it – the Ministry of Agriculture does not take adequate precautions.
As a result, a local outbreak that began in the area of ​​Kfar Yehoshua and Nahalal in early February spread to farms throughout the country to an extent that was not brought to the public’s attention, and the Ministry of Agriculture lost control and was at the mercy of cattle importers.

The disease leads to high mortality among calves and lambs. The multiple sores on the tongue cause the animals to give up eating due to the sharp pain, which can last for long days. The investigation shows that although the disease affects calves from the meat industry (71% of the victims), the Ministry of Agriculture continued to approve imports of live deliveries. All trade in live shipments to Israel is made from countries that are considered “clean” of the disease, in which the animals are not vaccinated against the plague. When the animal arrives in Israel, it is placed in a quarantine station, most of which are held by private hands, sometimes even by the importers themselves.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in February, 240,000 unvaccinated calves and lambs (as of the end of April) have arrived (and continue to arrive) in Israel. “It seems that the Ministry of Agriculture chooses to bend to the pressure of live shipment traders, and allows continued imports without interruption and in huge quantities, even though it is a disease that has already claimed the lives of hundreds of animals so far,” say Israel Against Live Shipments.

The organization calls for an extension of quarantine times, and also warns of a sanitary and environmental hazard in the form of unregulated “mass graves” in populated areas of farm animals, which died from the disease in violation of importers’ procedures and careless disinfection of animals. Yaron Lapidot, one of the organization’s founders, adds: “Countless animals suffer from foot-and-mouth disease. Hundreds of puppies die from it, and yet the Ministry of Agriculture continues to be a rubber stamp for life traders.”

The Ministry of Agriculture responded: “Foot-and-mouth disease is not contagious to humans and is not dangerous for them. The vaccine is manufactured according to risk assessments based on existing information, and herds receive it for maximum immunity during the outbreak season.” Is not complete. “Since February, about 60 outbreak centers have been located around which traffic restrictions are imposed, and the transfer of livestock to other farms has not been banned and no animals are allowed to be placed in quarantine areas in areas defined as infected areas.”

By Editor

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