(AFP) – Sep 9, 2008
RABAT (AFP) — Morocco on Tuesday said it would start vaccinating all livestock after the outbreak of a deadly viral disease ahead of the Eid festival when millions of animals are sacrificed.
"We had announced in July the existence of the (Peste des Petits Ruminants) disease as soon as it appeared and had started vaccinating livestock in the areas affected," Hamid Benazzou from the agriculture ministry told AFP.
"In 10 days we will start a new phase -- the vaccination of all livestock, taking into account the approach of Eid-el Kabir," which will be celebrated on December 8, he said.
Benazzou underscored that the "situation is under control."
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement on Tuesday that millions of sheep and goats were at risk in Morocco after the outbreak of the disease last month.
The disease can affect goats, sheep and other animals. It is transmitted through close contact between livestock and can lead to death.
The outbreak has so far largely affected sheep, with 133 known cases in 129 provinces, the FAO statement said.
The FAO said the movement of affected animals could have caused the outbreak. The UN organisation has already sent out a response team to control and limit the spread of the disease.
The FAO put Morocco's sheep population at 17 million and its goat population at five million and stressed that both play an important role in supporting the livelihoods of millions of families.
After the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the buying and selling of animals is set to increase in North Africa. Without the proper controls in place, the virus can spread rapidly, the FAO warned.
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