JUBA, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Over 4 million cattle in South Sudan are infected with the deadly foot and mouse disease that threatens to wipe out the war-torn country's vast untapped livestock economy, officials said late Thursday.
The Minister of Livestock and Fisheries James Janga Duku, despite not declaring an outbreak of the viral animal disease in Juba, said they were working on ways to establish control measures at the various border points in the country to curb further infections.
"We are looking for funds to set up control stations and maximum surveillance along our border. And we are doing this alongside our neighboring countries," he told journalists in Juba.
He added that the foot and mouse disease which does not kill cattle instantly but reduces the levels of milk and yields threatens to affect the vast untapped livestock sector which contributes about 30 percent to the South Sudan's GDP.
The country has 12 million cattle population, 14 million goats and sheep.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) head of programs Felix Dzvurumi said the spread of the disease would worsen the food insecurity situation in the country.
The move comes after the UN declared outbreak in June of the fall army worm putting at risk 6 million people who are already food insecure.
"It is coming at a time when we have other transboundary diseases like fall army worm. All these are putting pressure on the food security of the country," Dzvurumi said.
Meanwhile, the FAO Livestock Officer Nemaya Moga, confirmed an outbreak of the foot and mouth disease, but disclosed it is the government to make official declaration and that further tests are being conducted in the laboratory.
"Efforts have been done to test in the laboratory. It now depends on the government to declare an outbreak of the disease," he said.
Moga added it would take about 18 years for the disease to be controlled in the country as there is lack of well equipped laboratories, research institutes and few veterinary officers at local levels in the now 34 states.
The four Eastern African countries launched a joint initiative on controlling transboundary livestock diseases.
Foot and mouth disease, according to FAO is one of transboundary diseases which have been recognized as one of the devastating diseases seriously affecting food security and global trade in livestock and livestock products in the world.
Duku said that without donor support and capacity building, the foot and mouse will impede their ability to export livestock.
"It will impede our ability to export livestock. If we can't get the budget allocation now then we should go around to donors with a basket," he said.
"You cannot control the disease here when it is in neighboring countries. So what is being done here should also be done there," Moga said of the East African countries like Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia which share the border with South Sudan.
In South Sudan, the disease is endemic, this year alone seven outbreaks have been documented from different location indicating that the disease has spread and affected livestock throughout country.
There is therefore a desire to control and finally eradicate the disease in South Sudan and also within the global community.
South Sudan this year has witnessed numerous outbreaks of livestock disease next to foot and mouth disease including lumpy skin disease, hemorrhagic septicemia and more.
These diseases have a devastating effect on livestock keeping communities in the country as it is affecting availability of food.