Seven more deaths in Ontario linked to pathogen, bringing death toll to 20 since October 2016
Ontario has reported 88 new cases of foot and mouth disease among children and five confirmed cases in schools, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the province to 582 since late October 2016.
Three people have died from the infection, according to the Ontario province’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The province maintains a vigilant surveillance network of more than 33,000 farms that currently find about 140 new cases of foot and mouth disease each year.
In a press release, the ministry said that 63 of the 88 cases of the virus were among the 511 individuals that now represent the outbreak in schools and that 19 of the 74 reported cases were against live stock.
As of 29 August, the province reported that 92% of those contracting the disease from live stock appear to be children under the age of 10. Some have limited mobility, while others are of any age that present with severe illness and limited movements, including vomiting, severe headache, fever, muscle aches, weakness and loss of appetite.
Dr Keegan Siebert, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said: “This latest round of cases highlights the ongoing importance of continued herd-to-farm surveillance to prevent further spread of the virus. There has been some small but positive change in the spread of the virus, especially as farmers have focused their surveillance efforts to find the virus and when they find it, respond in a proper manner.”
Before the arrival of the virus, only livestock within a herd were tested for the infection and nearly 30% of the infected animals were randomly selected to be tested. However, since October 2016, the response effort has largely concentrated on the live animal population. Previously, this was only considered as a possibility where the disease was deliberately carried by humans or pet dogs.
The department of agriculture, agri-food and agri-businesses has launched surveillance for live feed or bovine rumen fluids through three sample collection sites in addition to expanding the protocols for a monitoring programme for bats and amoebas in a random sample of live feed samples.
The province of Ontario offers assistance to any dairy cow that is infected or its owner. Potential owners of infected calves or affected individuals, along with animals that are lame or otherwise have symptoms of foot and mouth disease (FMD), can call a foot and mouth disease hotline: 1-888-5-GRAIN-1.
Additional information is available at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website.