In the ten days since our last, somewhat optimistic update on Japan’s Foot-and-Mouth outbreak, we are hearing some more saddening news of a turn for the worse. The following update picks up where we left off and is sourced from the following articles (click to read more): Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Mainichi Daily News as well as here, and The New York Times.
Being on the other side of the planet, it can be difficult to understand the gravity of Miyazaki’s Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. The fact of the matter is that this is devastating to small- and mid-sized cattle farmers.
“For me, this is the end,” said Tsuyoshi Kawasaki, 86, who has raised cattle in a small hamlet for 60 years. His calf, sired by a legendary local stud bull named Tadafuji, is not carrying the virus but must be destroyed because Mr. Kawasaki’s barn falls within a six-mile radius of the outbreak zone. (NY Times) Tadafuji was one of the six top stud bulls quarantined and saved in Miyazaki, but was later culled and slaughtered after showing symptoms.
Greater Japan is on a “high risk” alert that FMD could spread from southwestern Miyazaki prefecture to other livestock regions, like Kagoshima. In fact, it’s been confirmed that several head of cattle in Miyakonojo, yet another city in Miyazaki Prefecture, have been infected. Also, cows in the previously unaffected city of Hyuga and an unaffected area in the city of Saito, both in Miyazaki, are now highly suspected of being infected based on visible symptoms. This indicates a failure in the containment of the infection by the central and prefectural governments.
Experts hypothesize a number of reasons for the severity of this outbreak. On the one hand, some blame Japanese cattle farming methods. For example, due to limited real estate, animals are kept in small indoor pens. Experts also say that allowing an entire population of Wagyu cattle to be sired by a handful of top stud bulls is also risky. Most imminent, however, is the fact that people and vehicles can be responsible for spreading the disease, even though disinfecting stations line the perimeter of the affected region.
The prefecture of Kobe is taking preventative measures to insure the safety of its similarly prized livestock. Kobe has dispersed its top bulls to reduce the chances of all the studs getting sick, and has stocked up on two month’s worth of frozen stud semen.
Needless to say, our thoughts continue to go out to those affected.