The European Union and FAO have stepped up efforts to assist countries to prepare for any possible outbreaks of devastating foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle, sheep, goats and other animals, including in the Balkans.
The European Commission for the control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD), the Secretariat of which is based at FAO, operates a broad programme to strengthen the capacity of veterinary services in Europe, given that even a single outbreak of FMD has massive economic implications for the countries and for Europe as a whole.
One region given special attention by the Commission is the Balkans, which comprises both EU and non-EU member countries, and is closer to infected countries further south and east.
The EuFMD helps countries develop and test contingency plans for rapid response to disease outbreaks before the virus can spread to neighbouring herds or further afield when livestock are transported to market. In any effort to stop the disease spreading, cooperation between neighbouring countries is crucial.
Such plans were tested recently in Bulgaria, Serbia and FYR of Macedonia, where government veterinary services took part in the first-ever desktop simulation of a simultaneous outbreak of FMD in herds in the three countries. Other Balkan countries and Greece took part as observers.
The simulation exercise was funded by the EU, coordinated by EuFMD, and assisted by Danish government animal health experts, who acted as evaluators in each country.
A second multi-country simulation exercise is being planned in the Balkans in July. It will incorporate lessons learned from the recent exercise and include field activities.
Monday February 9, 2015/ FAO.