• Baghdad

  • Friday, February 16, 2024 at 6:12:06 AM
    Last Update : Friday, February 16, 2024 at 6:12 AM

Iraq Announces Control Over the Spread of the Bluetongue Virus Infecting Livestock

(AWP) - After nearly two months of its spread, leading to China banning Iraqi meat imports, the Veterinary Department of the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture has announced the eradication of the “bluetongue” virus that infects livestock.

Muhammad al-Khuzaie, a spokesman for the Iraqi agriculture minister, confirmed that “epidemic hotspots have been identified and the standard procedures have been taken in such cases through veterinary teams.”

He added, “Among the measures are the closure of these areas, preventing animals from leaving or entering them, and taking measures to combat this epidemic by controlling the insect that carries it – a mosquito-like insect. This disease is less dangerous than haemorrhagic fever, given that it does not spread or transmit to humans. It is only transmitted between animals, unlike haemorrhagic fever, and therefore less dangerous.”

Al-Khuzaie continued, “Thank God, within a short period, all epidemic hotspots were identified and what was necessary was done. A period of time has passed without any new infections being recorded.”

Livestock breeders in Iraq complained about having to hire private veterinarians to treat the infected animals, which has added to their financial burdens.

Abu Hussein, an Iraqi livestock breeder, said, “For this virus, we deal with veterinarians in private clinics and pay them. They charge 25,000 or 30,000 [Iraqi dinars] for each animal. Every day, there are 10 to 15 cases. How can we manage this when we cannot afford the price of feed? Our struggle is great.”

Last month, China banned direct and indirect imports of livestock and its products from Iraq due to the spread of the bluetongue virus.

The bluetongue disease results in significant damage and loss of milk production, wool damage, delayed growth, decreased fertility, and significant weight loss of the animal.

Its symptoms include fever, bleeding and ulcers in the tissues of the mouth and nose, excessive secretion of saliva and nasal discharge, swelling of the lips, tongue and jaw, weight loss, diarrhoea, vomiting and pneumonia.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), there is no public health risk associated with bluetongue, as the virus is not transmitted through contact with animals or wool, nor through the consumption of milk.

Vaccination is the most effective measure to reduce losses associated with the disease and the possibility of its transmission among infected animals, along with measures to control contagious insects and mosquitoes.