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FAO launches livestock vaccination campaign along Syria-Lebanon border

BEIRUT |, with agencies - April 10, 2015, 12h23
Photo: FAO
An emergency vaccination campaign along the Syria-Lebanon border is underway in order to protect the region’s livestock from preventable infections, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced yesterday, amid growing concerns over the spread of high impact transboundary animal diseases.
Triggered by an influx of 1.5 million refugees fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Syria and bringing with them legions of unvaccinated goats, cattle, sheep and other animals, FAO is now targeting all animals in the Syria-Lebanon border area with vaccinations.

The UN agency has warned that as many as 70,000 cows and around 900,000 sheep and goats could be exposed to transboundary disease if left untreated.

Several animal diseases are highly contagious and can spread extremely rapidly, causing high mortality and morbidity in animals and resulting in serious socio-economic and public health consequences, the FAO said.

The three most prevalent diseases already detected in Lebanon include lumpy skin disease, foot-and-mouth disease and the "peste des petits ruminants", otherwise known as “goat plague” – a highly contagious disease characterized by fever, mouth sores, diarrhoea, rapid weight loss, pneumonia and a high death rate in a short period of time.

According to a farmer in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley, in fact, animal fever has already established a foothold, killing off livestock and impacting the incomes of herders and pastoralists. FAO estimates that almost 60 percent of livestock farmers in Lebanon depend on dairy animals as their main source of income.

“The idea is to reduce the risk of disease, and avoid drops in the productivity of the national herd,” Maurice Saade, FAO Representative in Lebanon, said in a press release.

The UN agency further warned that an outbreak of disease among Lebanon’s livestock could potentially have a devastating impact on the country’s natural resources and food production systems, particularly as up to 25 per cent of the country’s active population is employed in agriculture.
#Agriculture, #Bekaa, #Syria
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