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October 11, 2011

Foot and Mouth Disease Reported Again in Paraguay

Paraguayan officials notified international authorities on September 17th that they have identified the presence of foot and mouth disease in the nation's cattle herd. They indicated that 800 animals had already been destroyed in an attempt to control the spread of the infectious disease. Brazilian authorities went on high alert all along the border with Paraguay and Argentina in an attempt to keep the disease out of Brazil, which has the largest cattle herd in the world. The Brazilian military has also been asked to aid in the border patrols.

The state of Parana, which shares a border with Paraguay, has mobilized a team of technicians that are ready to go to Paraguay to assist in controlling the disease as soon as Paraguay gives them permission to enter the country. As of now, the Paraguayan government has not allowed foreign technicians into the country to assess the situation. As a result, authorities in Parana suspect that the outbreak is more extensive than what has been reported by the Paraguayan government.

Brazil continues to have an on-going struggle with Paraguay and Bolivia which share borders with Brazil, but where sanitary standards are much lower than in Brazil and where sanitary regulations have a spotty enforcement record.

A similar outbreak in Paraguay in the mid-2000's resulted in the appearance of the disease in Mato Grosso do Sul, which has the second largest cattle herd of any state in Brazil. It was suspected that infected animals wondered across the dry border between the two countries, but the source of the outbreak was never officially identified. Ranchers in Mato Grosso do Sul ended up destroying tens of thousands of animals before the outbreak was contained. Brazilian authorities were highly confident that the outbreak started in the border areas of Paraguay where routine vaccinations against foot and mouth disease are often ignored.

Earlier in 2011, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease was suspected in Bolivia and authorities in Mato Grosso sent technicians to the 530 ranches in the state that comprise the border with Bolivia to personally supervise the vaccinations of all the cattle on those ranches against the disease.