KUCHING, June 15 — The state government today declared five divisions of Sarawak as foot and mouth disease (FMD) control areas following an active outbreak of the disease in two Indonesian provinces.

State Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Stephen Rundie Itom said the divisions of Kuching, Serian, Sri Aman, Miri and Limbang border West Kalimantan and North Kalimantan where the outbreaks are occurring in cattle, buffalo, goat, and sheep populations.

“This declaration was made so that the state Department of Veterinary Services can impose and take all the necessary control measures to prevent [the disease’s] introduction to Sarawak,” he said in a statement.

He said the control measures being instituted included an import ban on livestock and livestock products from Indonesia; the monitoring and surveillance of livestock in the high-risk areas; and veterinary inspections at entry points to the state.

“FMD is an acute and highly contagious viral infection of both domestic and wild cloven-hoof animals, and these include cattle, buffalo, domesticated deer, goat, sheep, pigs as well as wild boar and deer,” he added.

He said the disease spreads from animal to animal via aerosols and nasal discharge as well as through contaminated feed, bedding, and other fomites.

Dr Rundie, however, explained that FMD is not a zoonotic disease, and it is not a public health concern — unlike hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) that is currently affecting young children nationwide, which is caused by a different virus.

He added the state has been recognised as an FMD-free zone without vaccination by the World Organisation for Animal Health since May 2004.

He said this status was important for the state’s international trade in livestock and livestock products and every effort must be made to prevent this disease from entering Sarawak.