Review of the foot and mouth disease situation in North Africa and the risk of introducing the disease into Europe



Bouguedour R, Ripani A.


Rev Sci Tech. 2016 Dec;35(3):757-768. doi: 10.20506/rst.35.3.2566.


Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals, including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and certain wildlife species. The disease can cause massive economic losses when introduced into countries that were free from the infection, generating negative effects due to reduced animal productivity and restrictions on international livestock trade. Following 15 years of FMD absence, Tunisia and Algeria experienced an incursion of the disease in 2014. The epidemiological situation and disease control measures in operation for FMD in the North African region are not homogeneous. The FMD virus detected in Tunisia and Algeria during the epidemic in 2014 showed 99% identity with a strain isolated in Libya in 2013. Morocco was not affected by the 2014 epidemic but it started a preventive vaccination campaign for cattle in August of that year. The relatively short distance between the North African continent and southern Europe may facilitate the introduction of pathogens, including FMD virus. The history of infectious diseases demonstrates that the Mediterranean Sea is not a sufficient barrier to viral infections. Considering the geography and the FMD situation in North African countries, strong and coordinated intervention strategies are required, including economic, political and disease control aspects, to prevent the spread of FMD to other countries in North Africa or to other regions, e.g. southern Europe. Regional platforms such as the Mediterranean Animal Health Network (REMESA) could play a crucial role in coordinating and managing animal health crises, such as the 2014 FMD epidemic. CI – © OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), 2016.

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Link/DOI: 10.20506/rst.35.3.2566