Russian authorities have reported a single outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in the Vladimir region of west Russia. According to reports, 90 of 800 cattle showed clinical signs and the virus was confirmed as FMD serotype Asia-1 on 16 October at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reference laboratory in Vladimir.
The source or cause has not been identified yet. This so far seems to have been an isolated incident, but this cannot be confirmed. An FMD vaccination programme has been initiated in the vicinity of the incident.
Area with FMD-free status
A similar strain to this was reported earlier this year in Iran and Afghanistan, though this area of Russia had official FMD-free status from the OIE without vaccination from 2015. Various other strains of FMD have been reported from the Middle East, particularly Turkey.
FMD does not present any risk to human health but is highly contagious among livestock and is an economically crippling disease for livestock-based agriculture. Ireland experienced outbreaks in 2001, which were quickly brought under control but caused massive disruption to everyday life as authorities contained the incident to north Louth and Armagh and Tyrone in Northern Ireland.
The concern around an incident in western Russia is the proximity to eastern member countries of the EU. However, with no trade taking place and little movement of population, the risk of spread to the EU is minimal.
There is a much greater risk of the disease being carried into the EU by the mass migration of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa into the EU as they are undocumented and their whereabouts are generally unknown.