Health Authorities Monitoring Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak in Sierra Leone

MONROVIA, Montserrado – After reports emerged of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Sierra Leone, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia says it is monitoring the situation.

Amos Gborie, the acting deputy director general for technical services at the NPHIL, told The Bush Chicken in an email that the agency and its partners are monitoring the situation under the National One Health Coordination Platform. The platform includes representatives from a variety of ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Gborie also said Liberia has engaged its Mano River Union colleagues through a cross-border WhatsApp chatroom and the situation is being monitored.

“The Agriculture Ministry has dispatched animal health officers to bordering communities with Guinea to assess the situation and collect samples for laboratory analysis,” he said.

“Overall the situation is not zoonotic in nature as is hand, foot, and mouth disease,” he wrote, explaining that the disease cannot be transmitted from animals to people.

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.

The Bush Chicken has gathered that authorities in Lofa have not banned the entry of animals from neighboring countries, as has been done in Sierra Leone. Authorities in Sierra Leone recently banned the entry of animals, especially goats and sheep, from Guinea and Liberia due to the spread of the disease from Guinea.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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