An industry spokesman told GlobalMeatNews they welcomed the move, as there are worries the highly contagious virus might find a way of spreading to European cattle, sheep and goat farms.
Frédéric Vincent, a spokesman for John Dalli, commissioner for health and consumers, told GlobalMeatNews that the decision to send the vaccines was adopted immediately after Algerian and Tunisian authorities detected the virus, following a request from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
"It’s the first outbreak of FMD in these countries in 15 years. It was first in Tunisia and then in Algeria. We decided right away to provide vaccines and we will be assessing these incidences on a case by case basis," he said.
According to an OIE report, four cases of the disease were confirmed at a cattle farm in Algeria on animals illegally smuggled in from Tunisia.
Symptoms such as fever, blisters, lameness and mammary lesions were detected on 23 July and the animals were slaughtered once results from Algeria’s Central Veterinary Laboratory confirmed the infection two days later. The site of infection was a fattening cattle farm in Setif, a town in the north of the country, approximately 80km from the Mediterranean coast.
Although imports of meat and milk products, or susceptible live cattle and sheep are not permitted from these countries, the risks to European livestock are genuine, as the disease can be spread easily.