3.5 million farm animals immobilised in Castilla-La Mancha after highly contagious outbreak of sheep pox

Image of a sheep's face. Credit: N-sky/Shutterstock.com

An outbreak of sheep pox has left 3.5 million farm animals immobilised in Castilla-La Mancha due to its high level of contagion.


On Tuesday, February 7, the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha activated the immobilisation protocol for all livestock in the Castilian-La Mancha provinces, except in Guadalajara. This was due to a new outbreak of sheep pox.

It is not transmitted to humans or to the milk or cheese the animals produce but is a highly contagious disease with high mortality among farm livestock.

The decision to immobilise the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha region was triggered after the detection in recent days of an outbreak in a feedlot located in the municipality of Alcazar de San Juan in Ciudad Real. This was a large farm far from the initial sources of Cuenca and their range of action.

It is suspected that the case in Ciudad Real is most probably the result of the movement of cattle from another area. This led to the immobilisation of cattle being decreed in an effort to stop the spread.

Ignacio García, the professor of Animal Health at the University of Cordoba (UCO), in statements to Efeagro, highlighted the importance of being ‘exhaustive’ with control, cleaning and disinfection measures.

This is necessary as it is a ‘persistent’ virus, capable of being alive for ‘a long time’ at room temperature. This could last even for ‘months and years if the right conditions are met’, he added.

Garcia also highlights the work carried out to eradicate the outbreaks that appeared in the province of Granada because they acted ‘very quickly and efficiently’ to achieve it. However, he does not rule out that new outbreaks appear in Andalucia, once the restriction measures have been relaxed.

According to the amounts set by the Ministry, until December, the Government of Castilla-La Mancha had paid the affected farmers in the province of Cuenca €4 million in compensation. At this time, it is also preparing an order for more compensation, intended for farmers who are going to reintroduce cattle on their farms once the ones they had have been slaughtered.

The experts consulted by Efeagro are astonished because the first outbreak in Granada’s Benamaurel which was detected on September 19 and then spread to various nearby areas before jumping to Cuenca, was quickly controlled, despite being in an extensive area of cattle.

Meanwhile, the outbreaks in Cuenca ended up expanding throughout the province and were possibly the origin of this jump to Ciudad Real. This is despite the fact that in Castilla-La Mancha there are more intensive productions and biosecurity measures can be better controlled there, according to the experts.

The Spanish veterinarians did not focus on this type of smallpox since it had not appeared in the Spanish herd since 1968. They also did not deny though that there was a risk of entry because an outbreak had already been detected in Greece and Bulgaria, as well as being endemic in North Africa.

For this reason, the most possible route of entry into Spain was any movement or displacement from an affected country, since the virus resists well at room temperature, so it can be transported on clothing or other material, as reported by 20minutos.es.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com