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November 27, 2012

Mato Grosso Strives to Remain Free of Foot-and-mouth Disease

In addition to being the principal soybean producing state in Brazil, Mato Grosso also has the largest cattle heard in the country with more than 29 million head. Cattle ranching remains a very import part of the state's agricultural economy and keeping the state free of foot-and- mouth disease is critically important. It has been 17 years since the last case of foot-and-mouth disease was reported in the state and officials are working hard to keep it that way.

All the cattle in the state must be vaccinated against the disease twice a year and the latest vaccination period started November 1st and will end November 30th. During these twice annual vaccination periods, special emphasis is placed on the making sure that all the cattle along the border with Bolivia are 100% vaccinated. In recent years, foot-and-mouth has been confirmed in eastern Bolivia and every effort is being made to insure the disease does not cross the border into the state.

The state of Mato Grosso has a 750 kilometer border with Bolivia spread across four municipalities. All the cattle within 15 kilometers of the border (440,000) are monitored very closely by state technicians to insure that 100% are vaccinated twice a year. To insure compliance, eleven veterinarians and 31 technicians from the state's animal sanitation agency (Indea/MT) are present at all the ranches within the 15 kilometer zone during the vaccination period to certify that 100% of the cattle are vaccinated.

Since the border between Mato Grosso and Bolivia is simply a land border without any demarcation, it is always possible that infected cattle could wonder across the border undetected. Therefore, all animal movements near the border are closely monitored by Indea/MT with the help of the Brazilian military.

If the disease is confirmed within a state, beef exports from the region are generally suspended while emergency measures are implemented to dispose of infected animals. This usually involves the slaughter and burial of all cattle within a specified radius of the outbreak. The remaining cattle must then be monitored for several years to insure the disease has been contained before exports can be resumed.