Surveillance costs, health testing and vaccinations are just some of the many factors that could make it difficult for Georgia to contain the insect-borne, viral disease bluetongue, claims the OIE.
It is the first time the OIE has been alerted to the presence of the bluetongue epidemic in Georgia, and the animal health body fears more cases could be identified in the coming days.
Livestock at risk
“Georgian veterinary services have informed the OIE that they already apply surveillance measures within the affected zone,” said an OIE spokesperson.
“This could lead to the discovery of other affected farms considering the fact that the disease is spread by a vector insect and that the temperatures [in Georgia] have not been very cold.”
Earlier this week, the OIE confirmed over 2,000 sheep were at risk of contracting the epidemic. This is in spite of the fact that Georgian animal health officials have already applied safety measures to stem the spread of the infection. These include: farm quarantines and restrictions on animal movement, disinfection, disinfestation and the slaughter of livestock deemed to be at risk.
Exports ‘probably’ impacted
The emergence of the vector-borne disease is obviously not good news for the meat industry. Bluetongue, in particular, will be tricky for the Georgian authorities to contain “because its transmission patterns make it difficult to control and eliminate”, according to the OIE spokesman.
They added: “Because of the epidemiological patterns of the disease, this outbreak will probably impact Georgian exports, at least as long as the situation has not been fully controlled within the country.
“Indeed, in countries where bluetongue outbreaks occur, the impact is largely on the loss of trade due to export restrictions and the cost of surveillance, health testing and vaccination.”