In the week since our last comprehensive update on the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak in Japan’s Miyazaki Wagyu herd, we begin now perhaps to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The following update picks up where we left off and is sourced from the following articles (click to read more): The Mainichi Daily News, Breitbart, Asahi.com, and Weekly Times Now.
A safety study has found no signs of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) among animals in Ebino since the last case confirmed on May 13th. And so the “transfer bans” – on moving livestock within a 10-kilometer radius from the four disease-hit farms and on taking animals out of a 20-km radius – have been lifted as of midnight Thursday.
Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru said today that he hopes to contain the spread of FMD and therefore lift the state of emergency in the Miyazaki prefecture by the summer holiday season.
These are small steps of progress towards bringing back exports of Wagyu from Japan. A few nations have already started importing Wagyu from regions a safe distance from Miyazaki – Hong Kong, for example, and Macao. But exports are still at a trickle, as major importing countries such as Vietnam, the United States and Malaysia have yet to reopen their markets.
Exports likely will not ramp up completely until Japan sheds its World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) “infected country” status. To do so, Japan must slaughter all infected animals and all animals that have received vaccinations against FMD, and even after that, must report no other cases of FMD must occur for three months.
To put this into perspective: During the last outbreak in Japan in 2000, only 740 animals were culled. It took about six months to resume exports. This year, about 290,000 had been earmarked for culling by the end of last month. Given the scale of the epidemic, many are pessimistic about an early resumption of exports.