Don Hansen, Oregon State Veterinarian, says the outbreak of the highly contagious Foot and Mouth disease in Japan is something producers need to be aware of.
The disease affects animals like cattle, swine and, sheep, not humans. The virus however, can be easily transmitted through clothing and shoes on Japanese travelers who have recently visited or are from Japanese livestock operations.
Unsuspecting travelers can transport the disease quickly. And since Japanese citizens often visit Oregon, there is a potential for the disease to spread to herds through movement by these visitors to ranches and farms.
The current outbreak in Japan is in the Miyazaki Prefecture, in the Southern island of Kyushu. They have already euthanized some 35 thousand cattle and pigs, and they expect that to go up in the hundreds of thousands as they mobilize people in the field.
Ranchers and farmers should be aware about this potential for infection. If you get a tour group from Japan you should ask if anyone is from Kyushu. If they are, take additional biosecurity precautions about the group walking and being around your livestock and facilities.
The US department of agriculture has also now issued a ban on beef and pork products from Japan in an attempt to prevent FMD spreading to the U.S..
Those traveling to Japan and Korea are being asked not to visit farms or ranches until the outbreak is over. Travelers are also being asked to avoid contact with livestock or wildlife for five days, prior to, and after returning home.