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Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

The Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture’s veterinary department proudly declared the eradication of the bluetongue disease on Sunday, marking a significant milestone in the nation’s efforts to safeguard its livestock.

Director Thamer Al-Khafaji revealed to the Iraqi News Agency (INA) that rigorous measures have been implemented to ensure the disease’s elimination. Notably, Al-Khafaji emphasized that there has been no import or export of meat between Iraq and China, allaying concerns surrounding the transmission of the disease via trade channels.

The announcement follows China’s recent imposition of a ban on the direct and indirect import of ruminant animals and their products from Baghdad, in response to the bluetongue disease epidemic. Al-Khafaji clarified that the illness was first detected in November 2023, prompting the formation of a specialized committee to manage the outbreak. Samples were promptly dispatched to laboratories for analysis and confirmation of infection, culminating in a decisive victory over the disease.

Confirming the absence of reported cases in January, Al-Khafaji assured stakeholders of Iraq’s successful containment and eradication efforts. The Chinese General Administration of Customs cited Iraq’s proactive approach, highlighting the country’s prompt communication with the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) following the disease’s discovery in sheep. This swift action prompted China’s restriction on imports from Iraq, underscoring the global ramifications of disease outbreaks in the livestock sector.

Bluetongue virus (BTV), the causative agent of the disease, poses significant threats to susceptible animals, including sheep and cows. The virus manifests in symptoms such as fever, oral ulcers, and, in rare instances, a distinctive blue tongue. Its transmission primarily occurs through biting midges seeking a blood meal from vulnerable hosts, as outlined by the US Department of Agriculture. Notably, China’s decision to restrict imports mirrors similar actions taken in response to outbreaks in Belgium and the Netherlands, reflecting the global importance of disease surveillance and containment efforts.

Iraq’s successful elimination of bluetongue disease stands as a testament to the nation’s commitment to animal health and welfare. With stringent measures in place and effective coordination between authorities, Iraq has demonstrated its capability to swiftly address and overcome significant agricultural challenges. Moving forward, ongoing vigilance and collaboration will remain paramount in safeguarding the nation’s livestock industry from emerging threats and ensuring food security for its populace.

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