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The risk of foot and mouth disease entering China through the movement of animals from Upper Mekong region countries

Cai, Chang (2012) The risk of foot and mouth disease entering China through the movement of animals from Upper Mekong region countries. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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In the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is the most important trans-boundary animal disease affecting the livelihood of livestock owners. To contribute to the long term goal to control FMD in south-eastern Asia, the South East Asia and China FMD Campaign (SEACFMD) has been implementing a progressive control approach based on sound epidemiological inputs and principles. A major risk to the regional program is the emergence of new strains of FMD including the Pan-Asia topotype serotype O,the serotype type A and the serotype Asia 1 that was confirmed in China at the beginning of 2009.

Due to the rapid development of China, the price of meat and its demand have grown quickly over the past ten years. This trend has resulted in an increase in the number of livestock moving from south-eastern Asian countries to China. Although Chinese law and the import-export policy prohibit these movements, these informal movements pose a high risk of introducing new serotypes to China and spreading the disease to FMD free areas in China.

Prior to the study reported here,there was little information written in English concerning the development of veterinary science in China and the history of FMD outbreaks in the country. This study collected and analysed existing historical records of FMD in China, and hypothesised on the potential source of the disease for China. Subsequently, the study collected and analysed existing data on FMD from countries in the Upper Mekong Region to understand the disease 19s epidemiological pattern. Epidemiological tools, such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS),risk assessment and epidemiological modelling, were used to study the epidemiology and the patterns of FMD spread into Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces in China.

This epidemiological study was the first study to evaluate the risk posed by informal animal movements between countries in the Upper Mekong Region and China. It was designed to provide the epidemiological basis for progressing zone status for FMD in the Upper Mekong Region with particular emphasis on the Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces. A systematic analysis was undertaken to evaluate the compulsory vaccination policy in China. The opinions of Chinese veterinary workers were also collected to identify the current problems with the control of FMD in China.

Foot and Mouth Disease was probably introduced into China from Europe in the 19th century. However the research reported in this thesis found that the current highest risk to China was through the movement of animals along the Mekong River, compared to movement along alternative land routes. The two mostimportant factors influencing this risk were: the prevalence of FMD in the exporting country; and the control strategy adopted in China. The current control of FMD in China is based on compulsory vaccination of livestock and the prohibition of livestock movements between south-eastern countries and China. Although the vaccination program has been very successful in China, with more than 70% of animals protected, this strategy requires significant amounts of government financial support and could be more effective if targeted to areas of highest risk.The results of this research indicate that it is not feasible or possible to prevent all livestock movements into China from neighbouring countries. It is recommended that an intensive FMD vaccination program is developed and implemented in the GMS to reduce the number of susceptible animals in the region. It is also recommended that the movement of livestock/animal products between the Upper Mekong Region countries and China be legalised through the development of formal and appropriate import regulations. Adopting these practices and developing an active surveillance system should help reduce the spread of FMD within the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Supervisor(s): Robertson, Ian, Edwards, John, Huachun, L. and Hawkins, Chris
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