ULAN BATOR, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- At least 7,681 heads of livestock of 85 herders have been infected with the deadly foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the central Mongolian province of Uvurkhangai, the provincial veterinary department said Monday.
The viral infectious disease has spread in the province via livestock of herders who have returned home from the east of the country, the department said in a statement.
Due to a drought in Uvurkhangai this summer, many herders in the province have moved to the east, which has rich grass, to fatten their livestock.
High-risk animals are being vaccinated against the FMD to curb and prevent its spread.
So far this year, the highly contagious disease, which spreads among cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, sheep and pigs, has broken out in more than half of Mongolia's 21 provinces, according to the country's General Authority for Veterinary Services.
The livestock sector is a main pillar of the Mongolian economy with around 70 million heads of livestock in the country with a population of some 3.4 million.
The landlocked country is striving to develop its livestock sector by raising meat exports in a bid to diversify its mining-dependent economy, while frequent outbreaks of livestock diseases such as FMD and mad cow disease are impeding the process.
The country's meat exports have been suspended since June due to infectious animal diseases, according to the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Enditem