MONROVIA, Montserrado – Authorities in Sierra Leone have banned the entry of animals, especially goats and sheep, from Guinea and Liberia due to the spread of the foot and mouth disease in neighboring Guinea.
The BBC’s Umara Fofana tweeted on Friday that Sierra Leone had confirmed cases of the disease. Fofana said the disease had spilled over into the country from Guinea, adding that “districts such as Kono, Kambia, and Tonkolili are said to be affected.” None of the districts border Liberia, although Kono can be reached within a three-hour drive.
The Sierra Leonean authorities have restricted the movement of animals in the affected areas.
Foot and mouth disease is a contagious viral disease that can affect cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and deer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the disease is not a public health or food safety threat; however, it can cause significant economic losses to farmers as it can spread quickly. It is unrelated to a similarly sounding hand, foot, and mouth disease.
When contacted via mobile phone, Tolbert Nyenswah, director general of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, said he is not officially aware of the information from neighboring Sierra Leone.
According to Nyenswah, Liberia has a National One Health Coordination Platform that includes individuals from a variety of ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
“We have a system in place of tracking animal diseases,” Nyenswah said.
Similar to what is done with humans, he said the country’s surveillance system set up at the Agriculture Ministry can track animal diseases “so if there is anything of such in the country, we will track it and report to the public on the preventive measures.”
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah