OIE declares Brazil free of foot-and-mouth with vaccination

PARIS (Reuters) - The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) declared Brazil free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) with vaccination on Thursday, opening new export prospects for the world’s largest beef exporter.

The OIE already considered most of Brazil to be free of foot-and-mouth with vaccination. The declaration, which the government had been expecting since the start of the year, extends certification to the whole country.

Brazil’s access to many top-tier markets had remained limited by concerns over the introduction of the highly contagious disease which causes fever, mouth blisters and foot ruptures in cattle, swine as well as sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed ruminants.

“With this change in status we will have new countries with whom we can trade,” Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi told Reuters in Paris where he was attending the OIE’s general assembly.

He cited China as a major potential market and Japan, which does not buy meat extracts from Brazil due to the risk of the disease, he said.

Maggi said he has launched a program which aims to have the full country free of FMD without vaccination by 2023. Only one state in Brazil, Santa Catarina, has this status so far.

The disease, often fatal to animals, can infect humans, although it is extremely rare.

Separately, the OIE also assigned the following statuses at its general assembly:

- Peru and Surinam were recognised as free from foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease without vaccination and one zone in Chinese Taipei, in addition to Brazil, was officially recognised as FMD-free with vaccination.

- Argentina, Bulgaria and Costa Rica were recognised as being free of classical swine fever (CSF).

- Madagascar, Peru and Uruguay were recognised as being free from Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR)

- Nicaragua was recognised as having a “negligible risk” of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Gus Trompiz and Alexandra Hudson