Taipei-Taiwan's government is preparing to apply for recognition as a country free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) where vaccination is not practiced after meeting a critical standard on Monday, according to the country's Council of Agriculture (COA).
As of Monday, there have been no cases of FMD or vaccinations against FMD in Taiwan during the past 12 months, qualifying Taiwan as a World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) FMD-free zone, COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (???) said at a news conference Monday.
The COA will submit a declaration to the OIE consisting of Taiwan's qualifications and related evidence by September, and the country will hopefully regain such status after more than 22 years by May 2020, Huang said.
The COA will continue FMD prevention efforts, including GPS monitoring of all pig transportation vehicles across the island, before the OIE officially announces that Taiwan has regained FMD free without vaccination status, COA chief Chen Chi-chung (???) said.
The council will also work to upgrade Taiwan's pig farming industry and reintroduce the country's pork products to international markets by establishing special pig farming zones and a better system for recycling and exploiting excrement produced by pigs, Chen said.
Taiwan's pig farming industry had export sales of NT$60 billion (US$1.94 billion) in 1996, but it was hit hard by an FMD outbreak in 1997 which triggered a ban on exports of the country's fresh pork products, according to the COA.
FMD vaccination started in May 1997 in Taiwan and the country gained the status of an FMD-free country where vaccination is practiced in 2003.
Taiwan's government tried to end the FMD vaccination program in 2009 in an attempt to qualify for non-vaccination status but the project failed in February that year after seven FMD cases were reported.
The zone covering Taiwan and the offshore Penghu and Matsu counties regained FMD-free status with vaccination in August 2016 and offshore Kinmen County regained such status in September 2017.
Prior to the FMD outbreak in 1997, more than 10 million pigs were farmed in Taiwan, but the number of farmed pigs decreased sharply and were down to some 5 million in November 2018, the latest COA survey shows.
According to the OIE, FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock that has a significant economic impact. The disease affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed ruminants.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel