Glover pleased with Guyana's Foot-and-Mouth eradication steps

By Amanda Wilson
Guyana Chronicle
May 23, 2001

BRITISH High Commissioner, Mr. Edward Glover yesterday said he is "very pleased" with the positive progress Guyana has made towards the eradication of the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) within its boundaries.

"I am very pleased Guyana has made such a positive progress towards the eradication of the disease here and I understand that Government hopes to have formal notification of the completion of the eradication process", he said.

In a few days, Guyana is expected to be certified free of the FMD by the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (Office International des Epizooties) (OIE).

The OIE is the international body recognised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Glover's applause came during a press briefing at his Bel Air, Georgetown residence on the latest development on the outbreak of the disease in his homeland.

The British diplomat said the last few months have not been easy for farmers in the United Kingdom and that the Government has so far given some 600 million Pounds Sterling in compensation.

The total number of cattle, sheep and pigs in the U.K. is 61 million and only 4.1 per cent were affected by the current outbreak, Glover said.

In addition, the U.K. Government is looking at implementing long-term measures to regenerate affected communities, according to the diplomat.

He said it is hoped that by year-end, the outbreak will be over and affected communities will return to normalcy.

The epidemic started in February in Essex and since then, some 2,847,000 cattle have been slaughtered. Britain's last outbreak was in 1967 and some 434,000 were slaughtered then.

In relation to the U.K.'s tourism industry, Glover noted that the epidemic had a negative effect on some parts of the country but assured potential visitors that there is no risk in travelling to his homeland for their summer vacation.

"It is important to remember that FMD hardly ever affects people. There have been no confirmed cases in the current outbreak (and)...visitors can be assured that proper regard is being given to public health.

"There are no longer any affected area restrictions in the south and east of England, which includes London", he noted.

Acknowledging that it will take some time before the outbreak can be declared over, Glover said the number of cases reported on daily have declined due to the control policies implemented by the government.

The number of new cases reported up to May 18 is 1,607 and the daily rate has fallen from an average of 43 per day to five per day, he said.

" ...policies for control are clearly having a major impact on the incidence of the disease. Key priorities for control and eradication...are all animals (cattle, sheep, pigs) on infected farms are slaughtered within 24 hours of the infection report; animals on neighbouring farms are slaughtered within 48 hours; thorough cleansing and disinfection of all infected premises together with good bio-security", Glover noted.

As recent as two weeks ago, some 20 animals infected with FMD were found in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, one of Guyana's South American neighbours.

According to a Reuters report in the Sunday Chronicle, these cases have prompted Police authorities in Brazil to set up roadblocks and a vaccination campaign was also launched.

Brazil is home to the world's largest commercial cattle herd, with 167 million heads.

Mr. Bhowan Balkarran, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock yesterday said even though Rio Grande do Sul is located in the southern part of Brazil there is still a need for surveillance on Guyana's border.

He noted that the restriction against the movement of live cattle from Brazil to Guyana is still in force as well as other measures.

Balkarran said preventative measures are still being enforced at ports of entry countrywide, including at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.

The government official noted that Guyana is expected to be certified free of the FMD at a five-day World Health Organisation for Animal Health forum, which starts on May 28 in France.

High Commissioner Glover also took the opportunity yesterday to introduce his new Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Steve Crossman.