THERE are reports that foot and mouth disease has inflicted many cattle in upper Waziristan of Pakistan. This is a very serious disease that has caused havoc with the cattle livestock of many EU countries and brought down the economies of the nations. It is caused by a virus and spreads very easily through contact of animals to animals, or through equipment, vehicles, feed, etc.
Fortunately, the Waziristan area is not easily accessible, reducing the chance of spread of the disease to other areas of Pakistan. But, unfortunately, the Pakistan Army is operating in the area and they travel frequently between their bases across Pakistan.
There is an increased chance that the army equipment, clothes, vehicles might spread the disease to other parts of Pakistan. For example, in 1952 the disease was spread in Canada when dogs took the bones of inflicted dead animals to other parts of the country.
The government should request the UN and WHO to help Pakistani officials determine the cause of the disease, the spread of the disease and also to manage the inoculation and destruction of cattle in the area. The UN and WHO will also be able to help the Pakistan Army decontaminate soldiers and vehicles.
The activities can be used as training for the army and government officials to improve their knowledge of this disease and learn the proper method of dealing with this disease in the future.