EHD described as “plague” for meat producing sector
33 cases of EHD have been detected in cattle in Trás-os-Montes, exacerbating concerns among farmers in the region who have already had to deal with the effects of drought.
EHD is an infectious, non-contagious, insect-borne virus that infects most ruminants. It has previously been isolated in North and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Australia.
Symptoms are similar to those of Blue Tongue Virus: fever, lack of appetite, ulcers in the mouth, excessive saliva, difficulty in swallowing. Animals can also limp, due to inflammation of the crowns of their hooves, and cows suffer reddened udders.
According to reports, producers’ fears are for the ‘vulnerability’ of livestock that become infected, as their immune systems “become compromised”.
“After a scenario of drought that has lasted for two years, to now see a plague is to be very apprehensive about the future of livestock farms and consequent meat production,” veterinarian Válter Raposo, of the National Association of Mirandese Breeders, told Lusa.
According to Raposo, the disease is caused by a mosquito and is not transmitted to humans. It is believed to have originated in deer.
The first cases detected in northern territories were in July and early August, and have been more frequent since the beginning of September, writes Lusa – adding however that “according to a notice issued by the Directorate-General for Food and Veterinary (DGAV) on 6th October, all districts and municipalities in mainland Portugal are affected by EHD”.
Prevention boils down to “the need to take extra care on livestock farms, with the frequent use of insect repellents”, says Válter Raposo. There is no ‘cure’, or vaccines available.
Raposo highlighted the municipalities most affected in the north as Mogadouro, Miranda do Douro and part of Vimioso, albeit there are also reports in the municipality of Bragança.
This far, there appear to be no reports in the media about cases elsewhere. ND