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February 16, 2011

Brazilian Ranchers Redouble Efforts Against Foot and Mouth

The cattle herd in Mato Grosso, which is the largest of any Brazilian state, has been free of foot and mouth disease for 15 years and state officials are redoubling their efforts to make sure it stays that way. They are particularly concerned about the area of the state that borders Bolivia. Special emphasis is being placed on making sure all the cattle are vaccinated within 15 kilometers of the Bolivian border which includes 584 ranches.

Bolivian officials have been less than forthcoming concerning the status of the disease in their country. It is unclear if the disease is present in the Bolivian cattle herd, but Brazilian officials do not want to take any chances of the disease coming across the border. Much of the beef produced in Mato Grosso is exported especially to Russia and a reappearance of the disease would close those export markets for several years.

The borders between Mato Grosso and Bolivia as well as between Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraguay are wide open and there may or may not even be a fence. Wondering cattle could easily cross the border at any time.

During the month of February, 39 teams of specialists from the Animal Protection Institute of Mato Grosso (Indea) will be accompanying the vaccination of 100% of the cattle on the 584 properties that border with Bolivia.

The state of Mato Grosso do Sul had a similar problem with foot and mouth disease along its border with Paraguay several years ago. Although never proven, the source of foot and mouth disease in Mato Grosso do Sul was believed to have been from infected cattle in Paraguay that wondered across the border. Officials from both Brazil and Paraguay have since tried to coordinate their vaccination programs against the disease.