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September 14, 2008

Morocco to mass vaccinate against goat plague

Morocco is to vaccinate 22 million goats and sheep against a deadly virus which has spread in an epidemic since July.

More than 2,100 animals have died from the so-called 'Peste des petits ruminants' and another 4,400 were sick, said Hamid Benazzou, head of the livestock division at the agriculture ministry.

The fatality rate is up to 80 percent depending on the herd, he said.

Morocco has received 900,000 vaccines and is set to start a generalised vaccination of its 22 millions goats and sheep, the official said.

"The second stage will be the vaccination of all herds, that is 17 million sheep and five million goats," said Benazzou.

It is the first time the disease has been reported in any North African country.

Morocco says it does not import sheep and the ministry says the disease originated from the "illegal" introduction of live animals across its borders.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said last week that millions of sheep and goats were at risk from the so-called "goat plague."


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